ERIC Number: ED460185
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
How Will Welfare Reform Affect Childbearing and Family Structure Decisions? Discussion Paper.
Peters, H. Elizabeth; Plotnick, Robert D.; Jeong, Se-Ook
This paper summarizes changes in key elements of welfare policy and in closely related policies on child support enforcement and sex education and family planning programs. Drawing on a conceptual framework that highlights how incentives created by public policy can affect demographic behaviors, the paper concludes that, as Congress intended, reform has shifted welfare's incentives in directions that encourage marriage and discourage nonmarital pregnancy and childbearing, childbearing while on welfare, divorce, living independently from relatives, and avoiding child support responsibilities. The paper reviews the empirical evidence about welfare's effects on demographic behavior, including nonmarital childbearing, abortion, sexual activity, contraceptive use and pregnancy among teenagers, marriage and divorce, single parenthood, living arrangements, and nonresident parenting behavior. The general tenor of this evidence is that behavioral effects consistent with theoretical expectations and policymakers' intentions do exist. Their magnitudes are small or uncertain. A tentative but reasonable "bottom line" is that one should not expect welfare reform to dramatically alter low-income Americans' demographic behavior, but one can expect it to have modest effects in the directions desired by policymakers. There is little or no evidence about how several important aspects of recent reform are likely to affect demographic behavior. (Contains 81 references.) (Author/SM)
Descriptors: Abortions, Child Rearing, Child Support, Cohabitation, Divorce, Family Planning, Family Structure, Marriage, One Parent Family, Policy Formation, Pregnancy, Public Policy, Sex Education, Welfare Recipients, Welfare Reform, Welfare Services
Publications Department, Institute for Research on Poverty, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53705-1393 ($3.50). Tel: 608-262-6358; Fax: 608-265-3119. For full text: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/irp/weireform/home.htm.
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Univ., Madison. Inst. for Research on Poverty.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Child Support Enforcement; Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act