The Effect of State-Level Welfare Reform Policies on Nonmarital Births: A Difference-in-Difference Approach

Kelly S. Mikelson, University of Texas at Austin

This paper examines the impact of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 on nonmarital births among non-Hispanic black and white women. In particular, the paper examines the effect of states’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefit amounts, lifetime time limits, family cap provisions, and the timing of TANF/waiver implementation on nonmarital births. The erosion of TANF benefits and time limits have reduced public assistance income and led to increased labor force participation among former welfare recipients. The paper examines the effect of time limits given the time elapsed since PRWORA was passed and whether reductions in nonmarital births vary by race, given differential TANF receipt by race. The paper uses a state-level difference-in-difference approach to measure differences in state’s fertility rates during the pre-and post-welfare reform periods.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Union Formation and Dissolution, Fertility, Family and Well-being