Abstracts of Reprints 770–789

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.

Deadbeat Dads or Inept States? A Comparison of Child Support Enforcement Systems

Irwin Garfinkel, Cynthia Miller, Sara S. McLanahan, and Thomas L. Hanson

RPT 789. 1998. 34 pp.

(Evaluation Review, Vol. 22:6 (December 1998), pp. 717-750)

This article provides information on the effectiveness of state child support enforcement systems. We use individual level data from the Child Support Supplements of the Current Population Surveys (1978-1992) to create an index of state effectiveness that captures success at securing child support awards, setting award levels, and collecting obligations. We identify states that were performing above or below the national average in the late 1980s to early 1990s and states that showed substantial improvement or decline in child support effectiveness during the 1980s. Identifying successful states will help researchers to determine what policies and practices are associated with successful enforcement. These variations in state effectiveness also suggest that low levels of child support are not due to deadbeat dads alone but also to inept states.

A Structural Model of Multiple Welfare Program Participation and Labor Supply

Michael Keane and Robert Moffitt

RPT 788. 1998. 37 pp.

(International Economic Review, Vol. 39:3 (August 1998), pp. 553-589)

Work on estimating the labor supply effects of high marginal tax rates in welfare programs has been hindered by the difficulty of estimating the effects of participation in multiple welfare programs simultaneously. We solve this problem by applying methods of simulation estimation to a model of labor supply and multiple program participation. The results show asymmetric wage and tax rate effects, with fairly large wage elasticities of labor supply but very inelastic responses to moderate changes in cumulative marginal tax rates, implying that high welfare tax rates do not necessarily induce major reductions in work effort.

Beyond Single Mothers: Cohabitation and Marriage in the AFDC Program

Robert A. Moffitt, Robert Reville, and Anne E. Winkler

RPT 787. 1998. 25 pp.

(Demography, Vol. 35:3 (August 1998), pp. 259-278)

We investigate the extent and implications of cohabitation and marriage among U.S. welfare recipients. An analysis of four data sets (the Current Population Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth) shows significant numbers of cohabitors among recipients of AFDC. An even more surprising finding is the large number of married women on welfare. We also report the results of a telephone survey of state AFDC agencies conducted to determine state rules governing cohabitation and marriage. The survey results indicate that, in a number of respects, AFDC rules encourage cohabitation. Finally, we conduct an analysis of the impact of AFDC rules on cohabitation, marriage, and single motherhood and find weak evidence in support of incentives to cohabit.

Inequality, Poverty, and the Fisc in Twentieth-Century America

Robert D. Plotnick, Eugene Smolensky, Eirik Evenhouse, and Siobhan Reilly

RPT 786. 1998. 25 pp.

(Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Vol. 21:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 51-75)

We present the twentieth-century record of income inequality and poverty in the United States using published indicators as well as new data series we have generated. We then assess how the fisc—government taxes and expenditures—has affected the level and trend of both outcomes. "Inequality" refers to the way income is distributed among the whole population. Income is typically before-tax cash receipts including cash transfers and excluding capital gains. The "poverty rate" (or "incidence of poverty") measures the proportion of the population with incomes below a particular income level fixed in real terms—a poverty line or poverty threshold.

The Effect of Welfare on Marriage and Fertility

Robert A. Moffitt

RPT 785. 1998. 48 pp.

(Welfare, the Family, and Reproductive Behavior, ed. Robert A. Moffitt, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998, pp. 50-97)

This chapter summarizes the literature and discusses differences across studies. Because of the diversity of findings, methodological considerations necessarily must be a major focus of the discussion. The first section provides background on the U.S. welfare system and those aspects of its structure relevant to marriage and fertility, and discusses the context of social science theories of marriage and fertility in which the welfare system plays a role. The second section outlines the different questions of interest and discusses those questions that have been addressed in the research literature. The third section discusses the methodological approach taken in the research literature toward the question and contrasts the method of experimentation with the nonexperimental method of using natural program variation. Broad trends in the United States on demographic outcomes and the welfare system are presented in the following section; these trends establish a set of basic patterns in the data. The next section reviews the multivariate research studies on the question, compares and contrasts their approaches, and discusses possible reasons for the diversity of findings. Finally, suggestions for future research are outlined in the last section.

Childhood Poverty and Adolescent Schooling and Fertility Outcomes: Reduced-Form and Structural Estimates

Robert Haveman, Barbara Wolfe, and Kathryn Wilson

RPT 784. 1997. 42 pp.

(Consequences of Growing Up Poor, ed. Greg Duncan and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997, pp. 419-460)

This study focuses on understanding the determinants of educational attainment and out-of-wedlock teen births and, in particular, on understanding the role of poverty and its family-related correlates. Rather than testing a single hypothesis regarding the determinants of educational and teen fertility outcomes, we introduce a range of background, economic, and family variables into the analysis, including variables consistent with several of the hypotheses that have been the subject of other studies.

When a fairly rich set of determinants is included, both sex and race influenced the probability of graduating high school; other things equal, being African American and female is associated with a higher probability of graduating. The amount of parental time available while growing up (including the presence of two parents in the home) and having fewer siblings is positively related to educational attainment. Both the educational level of the mother and the economic resources available to the family (proxied by both total family income and the number of years that the family is in poverty) are related to educational success. In particular, the number of years in poverty appears to be an important determinant of the probability of graduating high school. Other things equal, children who grow up in poor families are far less likely than other children to complete high school. When these children also grow up with only a single parent, the probability that they will complete high school is further reduced.

Networks, Sectors, and Workforce Learning

Laura Dresser and Joel Rogers

RPT 783. 1998. 19 pp.

(Jobs and Economic Development: Strategies and Practice, ed. P. Giloth, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 1998, pp. 64-82)

Given the multiple actors, agendas, needs, and responsibilities in urban job systems, there is no simple method of improving coordination of employer demand and community needs. Nevertheless, our experience in Wisconsin suggests that sectoral training partnerships in leading sectors can provide the foundation for real system reform. In the short term, these partnerships can develop clear routes of access into and up through industries for individuals. In the long term, as more leading sectors are organized, sectoral partnerships could collectively provide the necessary scale and detail on labor market information that effective administration of public support and training will require.

Changing Family Formation Behavior Through Welfare Reform

Rebecca Maynard, Elisabeth Boehnen, Thomas Corbett, Gary Sandefur, and Jane Mosley

RPT 782. 1998. 43 pp.

(Welfare, the Family, and Reproductive Behavior, ed. Robert Moffitt, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998, pp. 134-176.)

State and local governments are being called upon to handle some of society's most vexing and intractable social problems. The empirical evidence available to support prudent policy making at the subfederal level is not as extensive as one might expect, given the amount of recent demonstration and evaluation activity. The basic research needed to guide future policy improvement entails aggressive study of the innovation and experimentation associated with PRWORA. We should be proactive in addressing evaluation issues and challenges. Surprisingly little was learned about how past welfare reforms have affected those behaviors considered most important to the current reforms. We must learn from that history and do a better job of exploiting the knowledge development opportunities arising from the devolution of responsibility for welfare from the federal government to the states and even to local governments. Whatever social and economic challenges PRWORA creates, it also opens up an enormous opportunity to study behavioral responses to quite major shifts in the incentives created by various types of welfare policies.

Economic Well-Being Following an Exit from Aid to Families with Dependent Children

Daniel R. Meyer and Maria Cancian

RPT 781. 1998. 14 pp.

(Journal of Marriage and the Family , Vol. 60:2 (May 1998), pp. 479-492.)

Much previous research has focused on how long families receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) before leaving the program and whether and when they return to the program following an exit. Few quantitative studies have looked at broader indicators of the economic well-being of those who have exited AFDC. We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to trace poverty status and welfare use in the 5 years following an exit from AFDC. We find substantial diversity in economic well-being. Women who were working when they exited from AFDC do better, and, to a lesser extent, so do those who were married or had a partner when they exited. Higher levels of success are achieved by women with higher earning potential, including those with higher education and those with fewer children or older children. Although some women achieve modest levels of economic success, 41% remain poor even 5 years after an exit from AFDC. Our results highlight the distinction between leaving welfare and leaving poverty and suggest that welfare reforms targeted at reducing caseloads may do relatively little to enhance broader measures of economic success.

Patterns of Child Support Compliance in Wisconsin

Daniel R. Meyer and Judith Bartfeld

RPT 780. 1998. 10 pp.

(Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 60:2 (May 1998), pp. 309-318.)

This article examines 5-year compliance patterns among Wisconsin child support cases that came to court in 1986-1988. We find only limited support for the common assumption that compliance with child support orders declines over time. The average percentage paid is about .65 during each of the first 5 years following divorce or the establishment of paternity. One trend is an increasing polarization into groups of nonpayers and full payers. Although we find considerable stability from year to year among nonpayers (79% of nonpayers in one year do not pay in the following year) and full payers (84% of those who pay in full one year also pay in full the next), there is considerable change over the course of 5 years. Compliance during the first year provides some indication of long-term compliance, but about half of fathers change their compliance rate over the period. We find important differences between divorced and unmarried fathers, differences that are more pronounced than is apparent from a single year of data.

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A Structural Model of the Determinants of Educational Success

Robert Haveman, Kathryn Wilson, and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 779. 1998. 18 pp.

(The Distribution of Welfare and Household Production: International Perspectives , ed. Stephen P. Jenkins, Arie Kapteyn, and Bernard M. S. van Praag, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 346-363)

We attempt to identify the factors that underlie the schooling choices of US youth. We present estimates from a structural model of children's choice regarding whether or not to graduate from high school, in which both expected utilities (incomes) in alternative states of educational attainment and family/neighborhood factors can influence the choices made. We discuss the potential determinants of educational choices, after providing some background information on trends in educational attainment in the United States. Our data are from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We present a structural model that reflects the view that educational choices are rational responses to the economic returns associated with various levels of schooling attainments. We present the results from our estimation of this model, and draw some conclusions. Among them are that both gender and race influence the education choice; ceteris paribus, being African-American and female is associated with a higher likelihood of graduating from high school. The amount of parental time available while growing up-including the presence of two parents in the home-is positively related to educational attainment, and being the first born in the family appears to increase the amount of education attained. Both the educational level of the parents and the economic resources available to the family (proxied by the number of years that the family was in poverty) are related to educational success. The stresses encountered by a child while growing up-especially the number of geographic moves and the presence of a disabled family head-seem to inhibit the likelihood a child will graduate from high school. We found that the proportion of youths aged 16 to 19 in the vicinity who are high school dropouts appears to negatively and significantly affect the probability that individuals will themselves complete high school. And we find that the child's expected income returns to graduating from high school are influential in the education decision.

Father by Law: Effects of Joint Legal Custody on Nonresident Fathers' Involvement with Children

Judith A. Seltzer

RPT 778. 1998. 12 pp.

(Demography, Vol. 35:2 (May 1998), pp. 135-146.)

Family membership and household composition do not always coincide. Joint legal custody after divorce formalizes the relationship between fathers and children who live apart. Policymakers hope that explicit acknowledgment of nonresident fathers' rights and responsibilities will increase their involvement with their children. I use prospective data from the National Survey of Families and Households to examine the association between joint legal custody and two aspects of nonresident fathers' contributions to their children-the frequency of visits between fathers and children and child-support payments. The analysis examines approximately 160 families in which parents divorced between interviews conducted for Wave 1 (1987-1988) and Wave 2 (1992-1994) of the survey. I investigate the effects of joint legal custody holding constant physical custody or placement by restricting the analysis to children who live with their mothers most of the year. Controlling for socioeconomic status and the quality of family relationships before separation, fathers with joint legal custody see their children more frequently and have more overnight visits than do other fathers. The positive effect of joint legal custody on frequency of visits persists once unobserved differences among families are taken into account. Although fathers with joint legal custody pay more child support than those without joint legal custody, this difference lacks statistical significance when other family characteristics are taken into account. These findings support the view that joint legal custody may encourage some aspects of paternal involvement after divorce.

Resilience among Black Urban Youth: Prevalence, Intervention Effects, and Mechanisms of Influence

Arthur J. Reynolds

RPT 777. 1998. 17 pp.

(American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 68:1, 1998, 84-100)

Prospective and longitudinal data were used to investigate scholastic and social resilience in 1,170 low-income black 12-year-olds. One-fifth were found to be scholastically resilient, almost two-fifths socially resilient, and one-quarter were both. Participation in extended childhood intervention was significantly associated with both resilience outcomes, while academic achievement in third-grade and parent expectations of educational attainment consistently predicted resilience and were major mediators of the effects of intervention and of risk status.

An Overview of Social Experimentation and the Digest

David Greenberg and Mark Shroder

RPT 776. 1997. 31 pp.

(The Digest of Social Experiments, 2nd edition, Urban Institute Press, 1997, pp. 3-33)

This introduction provides background information for readers regarding social experiments. Rather than attempting to comprehensively discuss social experimentation-a topic that would require an entire book of its own-we touch upon a number of areas pertinent to interpreting the Digest's summaries. We begin by defining social experiments, discussing the concepts of internal and external validity of experimental findings and the categories into which experiments tend to fall. We then briefly describe quasi experiments, noting their strengths and weaknesses. Next we examine the reasons for conducting social experiments, we provide an overview of ethical issues, and we describe nonexperimental methodologies that have been proposed as substitutes. Some common threats to the external validity of social experiments are then reviewed, as well as "optional" features often found in experiments. A discussion of the uses of social experiments in the policy process follows. We then present a brief history of social experiments and discuss types of past experiments as well as trends in social experimentation. The final section of this introduction explains the uses and organization of this volume, so that readers can make optimal use of the summaries.

The Leisure Bias in Cost-benefit Analyses of Employment and Training Programs

David H. Greenberg

RPT 775. 1997. 27 pp.

(Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 32:2 (1997), pp. 413-439)

Although increases in earnings that result from Employment and Training (E&T) programs typically come at the cost of losses of leisure to participants, this is almost never taken into account in cost-benefit analyses of E&T programs. This paper develops a method for adjusting for this bias and illustrates how the method can be used to reassess findings from earlier E&T cost-benefit analyses. Results in the paper suggest that the bias from ignoring lost leisure is likely to be sizable unless the E&T program that is subject to cost-benefit analysis increases earnings mainly by raising wage rates or participant reservation wages are near zero. Ignoring the bias will favor E&T programs that emphasize increases in hours of work by focusing on job search or work requirements at the expense of programs that increase wage rates through investments in human capital.

Extended Early Childhood Intervention and School Achievement: Age Thirteen Findings from the Chicago Longitudinal Study

Arthur J. Reynolds and Judy A. Temple

RPT 774. 1998. 16 pp.

(Child Development, Vol. 69:1 (1998), pp. 231-246)

We evaluated the effects of participation in an extended program of compensatory education for 559 low-income, inner-city African American children up to seventh grade. The intervention is the federal and state-funded Chicago Child-Parent Center and Expansion Program, which began in 1967. Groups included 426 children who participated in the program from preschool to grades 2 or 3 and 133 children whose participation ceased in kindergarten. After taking into account initial differences in achievement at kindergarten entry and at the end of kindergarten, and after taking into account sample selection bias, program participation for 2 or 3 years after preschool and kindergarten was associated with significantly higher reading achievement up to seventh grade and with lower rates of cumulative grade retention and special education placement (4 to 5 years postprogram). Children participating in the follow-on program for 3 years had significantly higher reading achievement in seventh grade and a lower rate of grade retention than 3 year participants. Only 3 year participants had significantly higher math achievement than the comparison group. Study findings provide rare longitudinal evidence of the beneficial effects of a large-scale community-based program of extended early childhood intervention.

Welfare Reform: Fixing the System Inside and Out

Jared Bernstein and Irwin Garfinkel

RPT 773. 1997. 14 pp.

(The National Government and Social Welfare: What Should Be the Federal Role?, ed. J. E. Hansan and R. Morris (Westport, CT: Auburn House, 1997), pp. 147-160)

Welfare can relieve, but not prevent, poverty. When welfare caseloads grow large, something in the broader society is amiss. Poverty and welfare dependence are now high because of the disastrous deterioration in the low-wage labor market and the inadequate development of social policies in the areas of health insurance, child care, child support, and tax treatment for families with children. Reforming welfare from within can do little to reduce poverty. At best, work and training programs will make a small positive contribution. Cutting or eliminating benefits will reduce dependence on welfare but only at the cost of increasing poverty. To eliminate both poverty and dependence on welfare requires solutions outside the system. Increasing the minimum wage, strengthening unions, promoting full employment, and providing universal child care, national health insurance, child support assurance, and child allowances are the essential ingredients of real welfare reform.

Social Isolation of the Urban Poor: Race, Class, and Neighborhood Effects on Social Resources

Leann M. Tigges, Irene Browne, and Gary P. Green

RPT 772. 1998. 25 pp.

(Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 39:1 (1998), pp. 53-77)

We focus on the effects of race, class, and neighborhood on social isolation. Using data from households in Atlanta, Georgia, we compare poor and nonpoor African Americans to nonpoor whites on two types of social ties and the social resources inherent in those ties. We find that poverty has an important influence on the social resources available to African Americans in and outside of their household. Poor blacks are less likely than other blacks and nonpoor whites to live with another adult, to have even one person outside the household with whom they discuss important matters (a discussion partner), or to have a college-educated person in their discussion network. Higher neighborhood poverty reduces the size of the discussion network for whites and blacks and affects the probabilities of having any kind of social contacts. Important for the social isolation thesis is our finding that among African Americans, living in a very poor neighborhood increases social isolation and reduces access to social resources via one's network of close ties.

The Utilization of Human Capital in the United States, 1975-1992: Patterns of Work and Earnings among Working Age Males

Robert Haveman, Lawrence Buron, and Andrew Bershadker

RPT 771. 1997. 32 pp.

(Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 16 (1997), pp. 177-208, JAI Press, Inc.)

We define a new indicator of the level of human capital, potential earnings, and a new indicator of labor underutilization, the capacity utilization ratio (CUR). Potential earnings is the product of the individual's predicted wage and 2080 hours, interpreted as the norm of full time-full year (or capacity) work. The CUR is the ratio of the individual's earnings (hours times the predicted wage) to the individual's level of potential earnings, and is interpreted as a rate of human capital utilization. We use these concepts to assess the levels and trends of human capital and its utilization among United States working-age males from 1975 to 1992. Overall, the time-related patterns in both potential earnings and the utilization of this potential indicate that underutilization of the stock of male human capital has been increasing over the period. This downward trend in human capital utilization has been concentrated among very young and old workers, those with the lowest education levels, and non-whites.

Evaluating Government Training Programs for the Economically Disadvantaged

Daniel Friedlander, David H. Greenberg, and Philip K. Robins

RPT 770. 1997. 47 pp.

(Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 35 (December 1997), pp. 1809-1855)

The broadest generalization about the current knowledge of government training programs for the disadvantaged is that they have produced modest positive effects on employment and earnings for adult men and women that are roughly commensurate with the modest amounts of resources expended on them. The positive effects for adults are not large enough to produce major aggregate effects on employment and earnings among low-income target groups, and the programs have not made substantial inroads in reducing poverty, income inequality, or welfare use. Moreover, they have failed to produce positive effects for youth. We investigate the methodological foundations and empirical support for this view, suggest possible modifications of it, and identify potentially fruitful areas for future research by economists. We argue that, despite a large number of evaluations of government training programs and the development of a variety of sophisticated evaluation methods, considerable uncertainty remains about the kinds of training that work best, the effectiveness of training for certain demographic groups, and the appropriate policies for increasing aggregate program effects.

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