Welfare Reform and Non-Marital Fertility in the 1990s: Evidence from Birth Records

34 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2002 Last revised: 31 Oct 2010

See all articles by Theodore Joyce

Theodore Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sanders Korenman

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2002

Abstract

The 1996 Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act dramatically altered the economic incentive to bear children out-of-wedlock for economically disadvantaged women or couples most likely to avail themselves of welfare programs. We use data from vital statistics and a difference-in-differences research design to investigate whether state and federal welfare reform in the 1990s reduced rates of non-marital childbearing among women aged 19 to 39 at highest risk of welfare use, relative to women at lower risk. We find little consistent evidence for an effect of welfare reform on non-marital childbearing. This finding is similar to the literature that found little or mixed evidence for an effect of AFDC benefits. If anything, federal welfare reform has been associated with a small positive effect of two to three percent for white and black women ages 19 to 39.

Suggested Citation

Joyce, Theodore J. and Kaestner, Robert and Korenman, Sanders, Welfare Reform and Non-Marital Fertility in the 1990s: Evidence from Birth Records (December 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9406. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=364750

Theodore J. Joyce (Contact Author)

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Sanders Korenman

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs ( email )

135 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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