In 1996 federal welfare reform replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, the oldest welfare program for the poor, with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The primary goal of this historic reform was to encourage work and decrease welfare dependence. However, another explicit goal was to decrease single motherhood and encourage marriage. This emphasis on single motherhood and marriage is based on a long-standing criticism of the AFDC program—that it discouraged marriage because the eligibility rules made it difficult for married couples to receive benefits from the program.
In a recent study, Robert Moffitt, Brian Phelan, and Anne Winkler take advantage of the passage of time to reexamine whether welfare reform had its intended effect of discouraging single motherhood and encouraging marriage.
Continue reading “Who Needs a Ring? The 1996 Welfare Reform’s “Independence Effect””
Two trends are often observed as a country develops: a decline in family size and a rise in education attainment. Are they related? In particular, could the fall in family size be one reason for the increase in education levels? Hui Ren Tan (Boston University) considered this question within the context of the 19th and early 20th century United States.
Continue reading “Having More Siblings Reduces Education Attainment, but Not by Much”
For the past several decades, the U.S. government has invested heavily in anti-poverty programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Head Start, aimed at closing the resource gap for disadvantaged children and improving their long-term outcomes. There is a vast literature studying the impacts of such programs, yet there is one potential source of disparity that has been largely overlooked: family planning.
Continue reading “Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X”
As the population ages, many families face decisions about how to care for elderly relatives. In a recent publication, Bridget Hiedemann (Seattle University), Michelle Sovinsky (University of Mannheim and CEPR), and Steven Stern (Stony Brook University) consider the dynamics of this decision-making process. Who will provide care for the aging family member—a spouse, an adult child, a formal home health worker, or a nursing home? Will this arrangement change over time?
Continue reading “The Dynamics of Families’ Long-Term Care Arrangements—Who Takes Care of Our Elderly in the Long Run?”
In India, policy-makers have looked to population control as a means of increasing resources per capita and reducing widespread poverty. Since 1992, eleven Indian states have experimented with restricting elected village council positions to candidates with two or fewer children. The hope is that leaders with small families would inspire their constituents to follow suit. In a new study, researchers S. Anukriti (Boston College) and Abhishek Chakravarty (University of Manchester) found the policy was effective in reducing family sizes, but it worsened the sex ratio as families favored boys.
Continue reading “A Two-Child Limit Imposed on Political Candidates in India—Does It Work?”
Gender bias in families is evident in many regions, but the evidence to date does not allow us to fully understand its effects. Stacy H. Chen (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, GRIPS), Yen-Chien Chen (Chi-Nan University, Taiwan), and Jin-Tan Liu (National Taiwan University and NBER) studied the educational outcomes of children in more than 965,000 families in Taiwan to better understand the experiences of daughters and sons.
Continue reading “When Families Want Sons, Do Daughters Get an Education?”
A myriad of studies find that later-born children have worse educational and labor market outcomes as adults than their older siblings, a phenomenon known as the “birth order effect.” New research finds these differences begin very early in children’s lives—and parenting behavior can explain it.
Continue reading “Why Do First-Borns Perform Better? The First Years”
Recent job seekers know that “soft skills”—traits related to personality, values, and personal interaction—can be important in receiving a job offer. These so-called noncognitive abilities are important parts of our personalities, and researchers are working to understand how they, as well as cognitive abilities, are formed in children. Continue reading “Thank Your Parents for Your Soft Skills”
“First-born children have better thinking skills, study says” in The Guardian highlights JHR-published study that finds parenting behavior results in cognitive advantages for first-born children. Continue reading “First-Born Children *Are* Smarter”