Abstracts of Reprints 730–749

Notes: IRP reprints are not available online or in hard copy due to copyright restrictions, please refer to the citation given in the article. Reprints are listed in reverse order of reprint number.

Welfare Benefits and Birth Decisions of Never-Married Women

Philip K. Robins and Paul Fronstin

RPT 749. 1996. 38 pp.

(Population Research and Policy Review)

For some time now, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has been increasing rapidly in the United States. This has prompted several states to propose (and in some cases, enact) legislation to deny access to higher AFDC benefits for families in which the mother gives birth while receiving AFDC. The authors investigate whether AFDC benefit levels are systematically related to the family-size decisions of never-married women. Using a bivariate probit model with state and time fixed effects, applied to Current Population Survey data for the years 1980-1988, it is found that the basic benefit level for a family of two (one adult and one child) and the incremental benefit for a second child positively effects the family size decisions of black and Hispanic women, but not of white women. The effects are concentrated among high school dropouts (no effects are found for high school graduates). The authors conclude that rather than to uniformly deny benefits to all AFDC women that bear children, a better targeted policy might be to alter the AFDC benefit structure in such a way as to encourage single mothers to complete high school. However, being a high school dropout might be a proxy for some other underlying characteristic of the woman, and encouraging women to complete high school who otherwise would not might have no effect whatsoever on nonmarital births.

Welfare Transfers in Two-Parent Families: Labor Supply and Welfare Participation under AFDC-UP

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

RPT 748. 1996. 38 pp.


This paper examines the effect of cash transfers and food stamp benefits on family labor supply and welfare participation among two-parent families. The Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Unemployed Parent Program has provided cash benefits to two-parent households since 1961. Despite recent expansions, little is known about the program's effect on labor supply and welfare participation. I develop a model of family labor supply in which hours of work for the husband and wife are chosen to maximize family utility subject to a family budget constraint accounting for AFDC-UP benefits and other tax and transfer programs. The husband's and wife's labor supply decisions are restricted to no work, part-time work, and full-time work. Maximum likelihood techniques are used to estimate parameters of the underlying hours of work and welfare participation equations. The estimates are used to determine the magnitude of the work disincentive effects of the AFDC-UP program, and to simulate the effects of changes in AFDC-UP benefit and eligibility rules on family labor supply and welfare participation. The results suggest that labor supply and welfare participation among two-parent families are highly responsive to changes in the benefit structure under the AFDC-UP program.

Welfare Reform in Wisconsin: The Rhetoric and the Reality

Thomas J. Corbett

RPT 747. 1995. 35 pp.

(The Politics of Welfare [book])

This chapter overviews one state's effort to respond to society's growing dissatisfaction with AFDC. For some time Wisconsin has been at the forefront of the welfare reform dialogue. Media attention to what has been occurring in the state has been extensive and continuous, and Wisconsin has often been labeled as a laboratory for welfare reform. The author has been involved in Wisconsin welfare reform efforts for over two decades now, as a state employee and as an academic specializing in welfare reform issues. In these roles, he has collected a substantial amount of background material on the welfare system in Wisconsin and efforts to change it. In addition, he has drawn upon his extensive experience and his association with some of the key players in an effort to try to put the Wisconsin story into perspective.

Compliance with Child Support Orders in Divorce Cases

Daniel R. Meyer and Judith Bartfeld

RPT 746. 1996. 12 pp.

(Journal of Marriage and the Family)

This article examines compliance with child support orders by divorced fathers in Wisconsin during 1981-1989. The father's ability to pay is strongly related to compliance: Compliance increases as the father's income increases. The "burden" of orders does not affect compliance unless the order is for more than 35% of the father's income. More stringent enforcement systems also increase compliance. Our analysis of the characteristics of fathers who are not paying child support suggests that although these fathers are not a high-income group, they are generally not so poor that they could not afford to pay at least some support.

Revising Child Support Orders: The Wisconsin Experience

Kathleen A. Kost, Daniel R. Meyer, Thomas Corbett, and Patricia R. Brown

RPT 745. 1996. 8 pp.

(Family Relations)

In an effort to make Wisconsin's child support cases more equitable and up-to-date, old child support orders were reviewed. Only 21% of the cases were revised. The amount of the revised orders increased substantially, a mean of $116/month (77%). An alternative method of keeping orders current is to express them as a percentage of the noncustodial parent's income these orders are kept up-to-date without automatically without a revision process.

Child Support Reform: Lessons from Wisconsin

Daniel R. Meyer, Judith Bartfeld, Irwin Garfinkel, and Patricia Brown

RPT 744. 1996. 8 pp.

(Family Relations)

The level of implementation and the effects of 3 child support reforms in Wisconsin are reviewed. Setting child support orders according to a percentage-of-income standard decreases the variability in orders. Expressing an order as a percentage of the noncustodial parent's income so that it changes automatically if income changes increases both the amount of orders and payments. Finally, routinely withholding child support from the noncustodial parent's income increases child support payments.

Effects of a Preschool Plus Follow-On Intervention for Children at Risk

Arthur J. Reynolds

RPT 743. 1994. 18 pp.

(Developmental Psychology)

The effects of the Chicago Child Parent Center and Expansion Program were investigated for 6 social competence outcomes up to 2 years postprogram. A total of 1,106 low-income Black children were differentially exposed to school-based, comprehensive-service components for up to 5 or 6 years of intervention (preschool to Grade 3). Results indicated that the duration of intervention was significantly associated, the expected direction, with reading and mathematics achievement, teacher ratings of school adjustment, parental involvement in school activities, grade retention, and special education placement. Analysis of 7 intervention and comparison groups revealed that participation in the follow-on intervention for 2 or 3 years significantly contributed to children's adjustment above and beyond preschool intervention and background factors. Both preschool and follow-on intervention meaningfully contributed to the cumulative effect of intervention.

Eliciting Student Expectations of the Returns to Schooling

Jeff Dominitz and Charles F. Manski

RPT 742. 1996. 26 pp.

(The Journal of Human Resources)

We report here on the design and first application of an interactive computer-assisted self-administered interview (CASI) survey eliciting from high school students and college undergraduates their expectations of the income they would earn if they were to complete different levels of schooling. We also elicit respondents' beliefs about current earnings distributions. Whereas a scattering of earlier studies have elicited point expectations of earnings unconditional on future schooling, we elicit subjective earnings distributions under alternative scenarios for future schooling. In this exploratory study, we find that respondents are willing and able to respond meaningfully to questions eliciting their earnings expectations in probabilistic form. The 110 respondents vary considerably in their earnings expectations but there is a common belief that the returns to a college education are positive and that earnings rise between ages 30 and 40. There is a common belief that one's own future earnings are rather uncertain. Moreover, respondents tend to overestimate the current degree of earnings inequality in American society.

One Year of Preschool Intervention or Two: Does It Matter?

Arthur J. Reynolds

RPT 741. 1995. 31 pp.

(Early Childhood Research Quarterly)

This study investigated the effects of the federally funded Child Parent Center preschool program on several cognitive and social outcomes through sixth grade. Seven hundred fifty-seven low-income Black children in the inner city enrolled in 1 or 2 years of a Head Start-type program at age 3 or 4. One hundred thirty Black children from similar neighborhoods entered the centers in kindergarten and served as a no-preschool comparison group. Results indicated that while 2-year participants began and ended kindergarten more academically competent than 1-year participants, through the elementary grades these children did not significantly or meaningfully differ from one another in reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, teacher ratings of social adjustment, rates of grade retention and special education placement, and teacher-rated parental school involvement. The overall effect size for Grades 1 to 6 was .15 standard deviations and values consistently favored the 2-year group. Both 1- and 2-year preschool participants were consistently and significantly better adjusted than no-preschool participants. The mean effect size of 1 or 2 years of preschool participation from Grades 1 to 6 across all outcomes was .34 standard deviations. Given limited enrollment and funding, findings lend support to enrolling as many children as possible in 1 year of quality Head Start-type programs. If the level of funding is not a major consideration or if the main criterion of success is school readiness at kindergarten entry, 2 years is preferable to 1 year.

Quasi-Experimental Estimates of the Effects of a Preschool Intervention: Psychometric and Econometric Comparisons

Arthur J. Reynolds and Judy A. Temple

RPT 740. 1996. 24 pp.

(Evaluation Review)

Estimates of program effects from a compensatory preschool intervention were investigated using several contemporary techniques of bias reduction. These included econometric simultaneous modeling, latent-variable structural modeling, and ordinary least squares regression. These techniques were applied to longitudinal data from Chicago's Child parent Center preschool program, a Head Start-type intervention. Analyses of 806 Black children followed from kindergarten to Grade 6 indicated that the techniques, by and large, produced similar estimates of program impact on school achievement test scores. Effect sizes ranged from .43 to .67 at school entry to .24 to .30 at Grade 6 (7 years postprogram). These findings were robust across different model specifications and similar to those of randomized studies. The only differences among methods occurred at Grade 3. Findings suggest that different quasi-experimental estimation methods that attempt to control for selection bias can generate similar estimates of the effects of an educational treatment.

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Economic Issues of Health Care

Barbara L. Wolfe

RPT 739. 1995. 16 pp.

(Escape from Poverty: What Makes a Difference for Children? ed. P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdals and Jeanne Brook-Gunn)

The Family Support Act of 1988 extends, for a limited period of time, Medicaid coverage to families who lose eligibility because their earnings increase. The effects of this change in Medicaid coverage can be studied by addressing several types of research question: How many children who would previously have gone without coverage will be covered under the Medicaid extension? Are they older or younger children (under or over age 9)? How does the extension influence utilizations of medical care? As a consequence of the welfare reform, are women more likely to accept jobs that do not offer health care coverage? What is the potential for receiving private coverage when the Medicaid extension expires? What will be the response by those eligible if the state exercises its option to charge an income-conditioned premium during the second half of the period of extension? These questions are of general importance for policies that promote the transition from welfare to work. This chapter anticipates some of the answers to these questions. It first describes the nature of Medicaid coverage and the current insurance coverage of the Aid to families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Population. It then considers the expected impact of the Family Support Act of 1988, discussing the link between insurance coverage and health. Alternative strategies for providing coverage to the AFDC population are presented as well.

Supporting Children Born Outside of Marriage: Do Child Support Awards Keep Pace With Changes in Fathers' Incomes?

Daniel R. Meyer

RPT 738. 1995. 17 pp.

(Social Science Quarterly)

Children born out of wedlock receive very little child support: one reason given is that their fathers have low incomes. This research has three purposes: to examine the incomes of these fathers at the time paternity is established; to explore whether these incomes increase over time; and to examine whether the increases in income translate into changes in child support awards. This research uses descriptive analysis and multivariate regression on data from Wisconsin court, tax, and AFDC records. Although many fathers of children born out of wedlock have zero or very low incomes at the time the paternity case comes to court in Wisconsin, half of the fathers age 25 and older who have incomes in the court records have incomes over $10,000/year. Further, the incomes of many increase modestly or dramatically in the next three years, with the youngest fathers showing the largest increases. No relationship is found between changes in fathers' incomes and changes in the amounts of child support awards. The author concludes that the incomes of paternity fathers (especially young fathers) should be monitored regularly and that changes in income should result in changes in child support awards.

Using Microsimulation to Help Design Pilot Demonstrations: An Illustration form the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project

David H. Greenberg, David Long, Daniel Meyer Charles Michalopoulos, and Philip K. Robins

RPT 737. 1995. 20 pp.

(Evaluation Review)

This article describes how microsimulation analysis was used to help design a social experiment currently being conducted in two provinces in Canada. To the authors' knowledge, micorosimulation has never been used before for this purpose, although the technique has been used to assist development of a couple of nonexperimental demonstration programs. For the Canadian experiment, the microsimulation analysis was used primarily for choosing among alternative program models and for refining the selected mode, but it had other important uses, such as helping to project the potential financial liability to the Canadian government. The authors conclude that micorosimulation should be given serious consideration in the design of future experiments, whenever an appropriate simulation model is available.

The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings

Robert Haveman and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 736. 1995. 60 pp.

(Journal of Economic Literature)

Our review of recent studies rests on a large earlier body of research on social mobility and status attainment, primarily by quantitative demographers, sociologists, and economists. These earlier studies established the links between family background and children's later occupational and labor market statuses and mediated by the child's characteristics (e.g., ability) and choices (e.g., education). We summarize the main findings of this research. Recent research on the extent of intergenerational earnings correlations are summarized. These studies correct several data and statistical problems that affected earlier mobility research and find much less mobility across generations. They call into question the earlier conclusions that the nation is a highly mobile society, and leave far less room for "luck."

Research on the determinants of children's attainments is described. It has several characteristics that distinguish it from the earlier literature. First, research by economists, often relying on Becker-type models of family behavior, has been far more prevalent. Second, additional measures of attainment--for example, dependence on public transfers and nonmarital childbearing--have been introduced, both as surrogates for ultimate "success" and as of interest in their own right. Third, a far more extensive list of variables describing specific social and parental investments in children (e.g., family structure, mother's work time, parental welfare recipiency, and neighborhood characteristics) has been studied as potential determinants of children's attainments. Finally, recent research is characterized by a heavy reliance on panel data, longer-term and more accurate measures of potential determinants of children's success, and more advanced statistical methods.

Evaluating Program Evaluations: New Evidence on Commonly Used Nonexperimental Methods

Daniel Friedlander and Philip K. Robins

RPT 735. 1995. 15 pp.

(The American Economic Review)

In this study, we assess two conventional nonexperimental strategies for estimating the effect of social programs. The first approach estimates the effects of a policy change in one area by comparing persons in that area to those in a jurisdiction not affected by the policy change. The second approach compares the behavior of persons in a particular area covered by the policy change to the behavior of individuals in the same area before the change went into effect. The results of our study illustrate the risks involved in comparing the behavior of individuals residing in two different geographic areas. Comparisons across state lines are particularly problematic. Our findings illustrate that estimates of program effects from cross-state comparisons can be quite far from the true effects, even when samples are drawn (as ours were) with the same sample intake procedures and from target populations defined with the same objective characteristics. Our results suggest that statistical matching or a specification test alone will be unable to reduce markedly the uncertainty surrounding that kind of nonexperimental estimate. Our research indicates that, at a minimum, such studies must demonstrate the similarity of local conditions as a prerequisite to establishing the validity of the comparison.

The Loss of Earnings Capability from Disability/Health Limitations: Toward a New Social Indicator

Robert Haveman, Barbara Wolfe, Lawrence Buron, and Steven Hill

RPT 734. 1995. 20 pp.

(Review of Income and Wealth)

Health problems and physical and mental impairments can restrict the kind and amount of work that individuals can perform. Several studies have estimated the loss in earnings experienced by disabled/health-limited workers, but they do not examine the trend in this loss over time. The authors propose an alternative indicator of productivity loss that is more appropriate for intertemporal comparisons: "lost earnings capability"--the difference between the amount of money persons could potentially earn if they were free of disability/health limitations and the amount of money that they can actually earn given their limitations. The estimates indicate that the mean lost earnings capability per disabled/health-limited person grew over the period from 1973 to 1988, while the population with disabilities/health limitations fell. In 1973, lost earnings capacity totaled about 5.3 percent of Gross National Product (GNP); by 1988, the loss had fallen to about 4.5 percent of GNP as a consequence of the reduction in the number of people with limitations. Data are from the Current Population Surveys and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Immigration Impacts on Internal Migration of the Poor: 1990 Census Evidence for U.S. States

William H. Frey

RPT 733. 1995. 17 pp.

(International Journal of Population Geography)

This article presents newly-available migration data from the 1990 US census to assess immigration and internal migration components as they affect state poverty populations. New immigrant waves are heavily focused on only a few 'port-of-entry' states. It is suggested that these immigrants have begun to impact upon internal migration into and out of these 'high immigration states', and have also altered the national system of internal migration patterns. This article addresses three questions: How do the magnitudes of poverty population out-migration from high immigration states compare with those of other states? Is this out-migration selective on particular social and demographic groups? Is immigration a significant determinant of internal immigration of the poor population?

The results of this analysis are consistent with the view that recent, focused immigration is associated with out-migration among a states's poor longer-term residents. At the local level, there is a demographic displacement of low income residents by immigrants which involves more than just numbers of people. Rather, it involves a turn over of race, ethnic and skill-level characteristics in the state's poor population that can impact upon race relations, public service requirements and labor force quality.

Using Survey Participants to Estimate the Impact of Nonparticipation

I-Fen Lin and Nora Cate Schaeffer

RPT 732. 1995. 23 pp.

(Public Opinion Quarterly)

We consider models that underlie two proposals to estimate nonparticipation bias. The first model posits a "continuum of resistance," placing people who were interviewed during the first contact on one end of the continuum and nonparticipants on the other. The second model assumes that there are different classes of nonparticipants and that similar classes can be found among participants; it then uses groups of participants thought to be like nonparticipants to estimate the characteristics of nonparticipants. We examine the justification for these models of the relationship between participants and nonparticipants and consider how well proposed methods based on these models describe nonparticipants and the impact of nonparticipation on survey estimates. The case we analyze is estimates of means of child support awards and payments in Wisconsin. We find that neither model is successful and that the versions of the methods we use do not detect the true extent of nonparticipation error in estimates based on the unadjusted sample mean. This failure occurs both for an external measure that is not contaminated with response errors and for self-reports. But response errors, which are not considered in the models we have found in the literature, substantially worsen matters.

Making Work Pay for Welfare Recipients

David H. Greenberg, Charles Michalopoulos, Philip K. Robins, and Robert Wood

RPT 731. 1995. 24 pp.

(Contemporary Economic Policy)

This paper describes five new welfare reform programs being tested in six areas of the United States and Canada. These programs all use financial incentives to encourage selfsufficiency among welfare recipients. Some programs also provide employment and training services. A microsimulation model is used to predict the impacts of the two most generous programs: the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP) and the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). The simulation results suggest that SSP and MFIP will modestly increase the number of welfare recipients who work. However, because SSP has a fulltime work requirement and MFIP does not, only SSP is predicted to generate an increase in fulltime employment.

Minorities in Rural Society

Gene F. Summers

RPT 730. 1995. 12 pp.

(Rural Sociology)

The challenge in addressing rural poverty is to discover why a poverty class persists and why rural minorities are so disproportionately represented in it. This article calls attention to seven barriers to achieving a clearer understanding of poverty among rural minorities. The purpose of this discussion is to clarify the nature of poverty, eliminate the rationalizations often used to avoid or delay action, and encourage social scientists to resolve anew to determine the causes and develop solutions which will eliminate poverty in rural America.

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