Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Adolescent Social Behaviors

64 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Dhaval Dave

Dhaval Dave

Bentley University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

Hope Corman

Rider University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ariel Kalil

University of Chicago

Ofira Schwartz-Soicher

University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)

Nancy E. Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of welfare reform in the U.S. in the 1990s, which dramatically limited cash assistance for low-income families, on the next generation as they transition to adulthood. We estimate effects by gender and focus on behaviors that are important for socioeconomic and health trajectories and represent early observable consequences of the reforms for the next generation.Using two nationally-representative datasets, we exploit differences in welfare reform implementation across states and over time in a difference-in-difference-in-differences framework to identify plausibly causal effects of welfare reform on a range of prosocial and antisocial behaviors (volunteering, participating in clubs/teams/activities, skipping school, getting into fights, damaging property, stealing, hurting others, smoking, using alcohol, using marijuana, using other illicit drugs). We explore maternal employment, supervision, and child's employment when not in school as potential mediators. We find that:(1) Welfare reform had no favorable effects on any of the youth behaviors examined. (2) Welfare reform led to a decrease in volunteering among girls. (3) Welfare reform led to increases in skipping school, damaging property, and getting into fights among boys. (4) Welfare reform led to increases in smoking and drug use among both boys and girls, with generally larger effects for boys (e.g., approximately 6% for boys compared to 4% for girls for any substance use). (5) The mediators we are able to consider explain little of the observed effects of welfare reform.Overall, the results from this study suggest that the intergenerational effects of welfare reform on adolescent behaviors were unfavorable, particularly for boys, and do not support longstanding arguments that incentivizing maternal employment by limiting cash assistance leads to responsible behavior in the next generation. As such, the social gains of welfare reform for women found in previous studies may have come at a cost to the next generation, particularly to boys who have been falling behind girls in terms of high school completion for decades.

Keywords: welfare reform, maternal work, substance use, violence, school, intergenerational, adolescents, risky behaviors

JEL Classification: H53, I12, I31, I38

Suggested Citation

Dave, Dhaval and Dave, Dhaval and Corman, Hope and Kalil, Ariel and Schwartz-Soicher, Ofira and Reichman, Nancy E., Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Adolescent Social Behaviors (March 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390195 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3390195

Dhaval Dave (Contact Author)

Bentley University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

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Hope Corman

Rider University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Ariel Kalil

University of Chicago ( email )

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Ofira Schwartz-Soicher

University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) ( email )

P.O. Box 1709
Newark, NJ 07101
United States

Nancy E. Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ( email )

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Room 435
New Brunswick, NJ 08903
United States

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