An explicit goal of policymakers in drafting welfare reform policies was to reduce incentives for nonmarital childbearing. This paper estimates the extent to which state welfare reforms have lowered age and race-specific nonmarital fertility. Using state-level data from 1984 to 1999—a time period that includes the passage and implementation of national welfare reform—we estimate fixed effects models corrected for heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation. We find evidence that the family cap, a policy that decreases or eliminates the incremental increase in benefits for mothers who have an additional child while on welfare, is associated with a decline in nonmarital birth ratios. However, we also find that the family cap is associated with higher marital birth rates. Taken together with other research, our findings suggest evidence of policy endogeneity.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 26, 2008
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