Female Offenders' Use of Social Welfare Programs Before and after Jail and Prison: Does Prison Cause Welfare Dependency?

63 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2006

See all articles by Kristin F. Butcher

Kristin F. Butcher

Wellesley College; NBER

Robert LaLonde

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2006

Abstract

Prior studies indicate that incarcerated women are among the most economically disadvantaged populations in the U.S. In this paper we focus on the links between incarceration and use of the social welfare system. Is prison, for example associated with increased welfare dependency? To better understand this relationship, we examine the temporal pattern of social welfare receipt for 45,000 female offenders from Cook County, Illinois over a ten year period. We find that this group does in fact have high rates of social welfare receipt, especially if they were incarcerated in state prison rather than in county jail. But incarceration is associated with modestly lower rates of social welfare receipt, especially for the less advantaged among the population of offenders. Further, bans on TANF receipt for drug felons enacted as part of welfare reform have not significantly affected this population's attachment to the social welfare system.

Keywords: Incarceration, Welfare Reform, Welfare Dependency

JEL Classification: I3, K42, J08

Suggested Citation

Butcher, Kristin Frances and LaLonde, Robert J., Female Offenders' Use of Social Welfare Programs Before and after Jail and Prison: Does Prison Cause Welfare Dependency? (November 2006). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2006-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=949179 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.949179

Kristin Frances Butcher (Contact Author)

Wellesley College ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/people/kristin_butcher

Robert J. LaLonde

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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