Abstracts of Reprints 790–809

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.

Poverty and the Distribution of Economic Well-Being since the 1960s

Robert Haveman

RPT 809. 2000. 56 pp.

(Economic Events, Ideas, and Policies: The 1960s and After, ed. George L. Perry and James Tobin (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2000), pp. 243-298)

I review the evolution of thinking on and policy toward the problems of poverty and equality over the last forty years, discussing the facts of changing poverty and inequality patterns since the 1960s (and some of the factors underlying these changes). The changes in "received wisdom" regarding the poverty problem and in the evolution of social policy over this period are assessed. Although economic performance played an important role in reducing poverty before the mid-1970s, evidence is presented to show that it lost its bite during the two decades that followed. Has the recent expansion again led to a decline in poverty? I present some recent evidence on this question and conclude it has. However, the current prosperity is fragile. Maybe we have entered a new era of sustained growth that will truly counter this legacy, but then again probably we have not. Because of the eroded social support system that has accompanied welfare reform, the return of old problems may well be with some vengeance. The nation needs now to place on its agenda the strengthening of institutions and policies that are able to cushion the impact of a reversal of fortunes on those who are already disadvantaged.

Homeless Spell Exits and Returns: Substantive and Methodological Elaborations on Recent Studies

Amy Lynn Dworsky and Irving Piliavin

RPT 808. 2000. 21 pp.

(Social Service Review, Vol. 74, no. 2 (June 2000), pp. 193-213)

This article builds upon a series of recent studies that have examined exits from and returns to homelessness. The data come from a three-wave panel study of homeless persons. The article's major substantive concern is the relationship between the type of housing situations to which homeless persons move upon exiting homeless spells and their likelihood of becoming homeless again. The issue of selection bias due to sample attrition, a serious methodological problem common to longitudinal research, is also addressed.

Migration and the Employment and Wages of Native and Immigrant Workers

Franklin D. Wilson and Gerald Jaynes

RPT 807. 2000. 33 pp.

(Work and Occupations, Vol. 27, no. 2 (May 2000), pp. 135-167)

This article assesses the association between migration (both international and internal) and the employment status and earnings of young non-college-educated native White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and immigrant white-collar and blue-collar workers in the United States during the decade from 1980 to 1990. The authors present results that only partly support the claim that internal migrants and immigrants are substitutes for native workers. On one hand, the authors found that migration (flow) was not a major factor associated with the increased joblessness and decreased wages experienced by some native groups during the 1980s, particularly among blue-collar workers. On the other hand, the authors did find that changes in the foreign-born composition of an industrial sector (a measure of immigrant stock) were associated with increased joblessness of native workers and decreased joblessness of immigrant workers.

Work After Welfare: Women's Work Effort, Occupation, and Economic Well-Being

Maria Cancian and Daniel R. Meyer

RPT 806. 2000. 18 pp.

(Social Work Research, Vol.24, no.2 (June 2000), pp. 69-86)

Current welfare reforms attempt to move low-income women with children from welfare to work. The logic of some current efforts relies on the thesis that employment, even in low-paying jobs, leads eventually to self-sufficiency. With data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors analyzed the relationship between work history and economic success during the first five years after women leave welfare. They found that over time median wages and hours worked increased and that earnings generally improved. Nonetheless, even in the fifth year, only one in four consistently worked full-time. Although current welfare reforms are focused on moving women into jobs quickly, results cited in this article suggest that employment itself is not a guarantee of economic success.

The Changing Economic Status of Disabled Women, 1982-1991: Trends and Their Determinants

Robert Haveman, Karen Holden, Barbara Wolfe, Paul Smith, and Kathryn Wilson

RPT 805. 2000. 30 pp.

(The Economics of Disability, ed. David S. Salkever and Alan Sorkin, pp. 51-80, Stamford, CT: JAI Press, Inc.)

In this paper, we provide an assessment of the intertemporal economic well-being of a representative sample of females who became new Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries in 1982. We compare their economic circumstances over the 1982 to 1991 period with those of both disabled men who became new SSDI beneficiaries in 1982, and a matched sample of nondisabled females who had sufficient work experience for benefit eligibility should they have become disabled. In 1982, the new SSDI women beneficiaries were a relatively poor segment of U.S. society. One quarter of them lived in poverty, and 48 percent had incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line. Over the subsequent decade, some of those married in 1982 lost husbands and the income contributed by their husbands. Yet, as of 1991, over one half of these disabled women lived in families with income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Social Security benefits to disabled women have played an important, and growing, role in sustaining economic status. Nevertheless, the level of well-being of these women lies substantially below that of the comparison groups, and for some groups of the women, well-being trends were negative both absolutely and relative to the comparison groups. We statistically relate the poverty status of these new female recipients to sociodemographic factors that would be expected to contribute to low well-being, and simulate the effects of Social Security benefits in reducing poverty and replacing earnings. We suggest a number of SSDI-related policy changes that could, at low cost, reduce poverty among those women with the highest incidence rates.

State Fiscal Responses to Block Grants: Will the Social Safety Net Survive?

Howard Chernick and Andrew Reschovsky

RPT 804. 2000. 37 pp.

(The End of Welfare? Consequences of Federal Devolution for the Nation, ed. Max B. Sawicky, pp. 157-193, M. E. Sharpe, Inc.)

The federal government has made radical changes in the system of intergovernmental finance in the United States. The primary federal responsibility is now to provide block grants to the states, with the states bearing the full cost of spending above the level of the block grants. This chapter summarizes what we know about how state governments are likely to respond to this new fiscal environment. Our best estimate is that, on average, state governments will reduce overall spending on AFDC/TANF by approximately 30 percent. The estimate translates into, at a minimum, a 50 percent reduction in state-financed funding for cash assistance. When welfare reform was adopted in 1996, it was not anticipated that the sharp rate of decline in caseloads, which began in 1993, would continue. However, between 1993 and 1998 there has been an almost 40 percent drop in the number of families receiving cash assistance. This decline is due both to a strong economy and to stronger work incentives, sanctions, and other welfare policies in the states. We have assumed in this chapter that some portion of the decline represents a permanent drop in the percentage of the population who will receive cash assistance. The drop in caseloads has reduced states' budgetary pressure from welfare spending, and increased the magnitude of the fiscal windfall that was built into the block grant formula. Though the initial response to the windfall seems to support the proposition that a greater proportion of block grant monies will leak out into fiscal relief than is the case for matching aid, the incentive to reduce benefit levels is temporarily offset by the increase in available fiscal resources for those who do remain on the rolls. However, eventually the fiscal incentives described in the chapter will lead to cuts in benefit levels for families needing assistance.

Inequality in Health Care Access and Utilization and the Potential Role for the Public Sector

Barbara L. Wolfe and David Vanness

RPT 803. 1999. 35 pp.

(Fighting Poverty: Caring for Children, Parents, the Elderly and Health, ed. Stein Ringen and Philip R. De Jong (Foundation for International Studies on Social Security), pp. 251-285.)

A fundamental issue dealt with in this paper is what we mean by equity in the health sector. A second issue is what is required to achieve equity, according to each of these definitions. The implications for equalization of health under alternative definitions are discussed, and international evidence on the link between public insurance and use of medical care in a number of developed countries and in the United States is reviewed. The paper describes many definitions of equity in the health care sector, even when only horizontal equity is considered. In the end it is doubtful that we can fully achieve the goal of equity under many of the definitions by working with the traditional tools of the public sector, especially the traditional tool of a public insurance system. In order to equalize health or access to medical care we must move far beyond interventions in the medical care and health insurance systems.

Explaining Welfare Reform: Public Choice and the Labor Market

Robert A. Moffitt

RPT 802. 1999. 27 pp.

(International Tax and Public Finance, Vol. 6 (1999), pp. 289-315)

This paper seeks to identify factors which could plausibly have led to the contractionary welfare reform initiatives begun at the state and federal levels in the U.S. in the 1990s, initiatives concentrated on the AFDC program. A review of aggregate time series evidence, cross-section regression research, and studies of attitudes toward welfare spending and toward welfare recipients suggests a role for three types of factors. First, a major expansion of the U.S. welfare system in the late 1980s in terms of expenditures and caseloads may have led voters to desire to retrench by cutting back on the AFDC program, even though that program was not primarily responsible for the expansion. Second, declines in the relative and absolute levels of household income, wages, and employment rates among the disadvantaged population may have driven up caseloads and costs, increased the social distance of voters from the poor, heightened concern with work incentives, and may have led, more generally, to a decrease in the perceived deservingness of the poor. Third, a surge of births to unmarried mothers in the 1980s is suggested, by cross-sectional and attitudinal evidence, to have led to a reduction in voter support for the AFDC program.

Does Family Structure Really Influence Educational Attainment?

Gary D. Sandefur and Thomas Wells

RPT 801. 1999. 27 pp.

(Social Science Research, Vol. 28 (1999), pp. 331-357)

This paper examines the effects of family structure on educational attainment after controlling for common family influences, observed and unobserved, using data from siblings. The use of sibling data permits us to examine whether the apparent effects of family structure are due to unmeasured characteristics of families that are common to siblings. The data come from pairs of siblings in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979-1992. The results suggest that taking into account the unmeasured family characteristics yields estimates of the effects of family structure on educational attainment that are smaller, but still statistically significant, than estimates based on analyses that do not take unmeasured family influences into account.

The Changing Economic Status of U.S. Disabled Men: Trends and Their Determinants, 1982-1991

Robert Haveman, Karen Holden, Barbara Wolfe, Paul Smith, and Kathryn Wilson

RPT 800. 1999. 28 pp.

(Empirical Economics, Vol. 24, Issue 4 (1999), pp. 571-598)

We track the level of economic well-being of the population of men who began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in 1980-81 from the time just after they became beneficiaries (in 1982) to 1991. We present measures of the economic well-being of disabled individuals and their nondisabled peers as indicators of the relative economic position of these two groups. These measures also provide an intertemporal comparison of well-being and hardship as disabled persons and their nondisabled peers age and retire. We first show several economic well-being indicators for new male recipients of disability benefits in 1982 and 1991. We then compare their economic position to that of a matched group of nondisabled males with sufficient work histories to have been disability-insured. Because labor market changes over this decade have led to a relative deterioration in the position of younger and less-educated workers, we compare men with disabilities to those without disabilities and distinguish different age and educational levels within the groups. We conclude by assessing the antipoverty effectiveness of Social Security income support for both younger and older male SSDI recipients. We find that disabled men who enter the SSDI rolls at a younger age are especially disadvantaged, while the economic status of men who come on the SSDI rolls at a later age tends to converge over time with that of their nondisabled peers.

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Work, Earnings, and Well-Being after Welfare: What Do We Know?

Maria Cancian, Robert Haveman, Thomas Kaplan, Daniel Meyer, and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 799. 1999. 26 pp.

(Economic Conditions and Welfare Reform, ed. Sheldon H. Danziger, Kalamazoo, MI: The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1999, pp. 161-186.)

In this paper, we present evidence on the economic fate of single mothers who have left the welfare rolls. We summarize the results of earlier studies and then present findings from three approaches to this topic, one using national survey data, another using administrative data, and a few recent studies that use geographically targeted surveys. We conclude that reliance on administrative data provides the best option for evaluating the impacts of reform in the near future. We also recognize the limitations of these data and the need for survey data to supplement their findings.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Job-Search Strategies in Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles

Gary Paul Green, Leann M. Tigges, and Daniel Diaz

RPT 798. 1999. 16 pp.

(Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 80, no. 2 (June 1999), pp. 263-278.)

Objectives. Recent research on employer hiring and worker search behavior has emphasized the importance of social ties in matching workers to job opportunities. There are mixed results in the empirical research, however, regarding the effects of informal search methods for minorities. In the present study we examine two questions: Do racial and ethnic groups vary in their job-search strategies? Do the effects of job-search strategies vary for racial and ethnic groups? Methods. Data are drawn from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, which includes a random sample of households in Atalanta, Boston, and Los Angeles. Results. We find that Hispanics rely much more heavily on informal search strategies than do other race and ethnic groups, and that use of these informal strategies leads to lower-paying jobs. We also find that relying on a friend or relative to locate a job is especially detrimental for Hispanics and that using a multiplex tie (i.e., a person who is a friend or relative, a coworker, and a neighbor) leads to lower-paying jobs for Blacks and higher-paying jobs for Whites. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that a better understanding of racial and ethnic differences in search strategy results may require a more detailed examination of racial and ethnic differences in the kinds of jobs produced by informal searches and the types of employers who are more likely to use word-of-mouth recruitment.

Compliance with Child Support Orders in Paternity and Divorce Cases

Daniel R. Meyer

RPT 797. 1999. 31 pp.

(The Postdivorce Family: Children, Parenting, and Society, ed. Ross A. Thompson and Paul R. Amato (Sage Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 127-157)

Previous work using a unique data set in Wisconsin has focused on the impact of four kinds of variables on a nonresident father's compliance with child support orders. The variables include (1) those reflecting his ability to pay support, (2) the stringency of the enforcement system, (3) the strength of the family ties between the father and his ex-spouse and children, and (4) the economic needs of the mother and children. These examinations have been conducted separately for marital (divorce) and nonmarital (paternity) cases. This chapter summarizes the findings from this line of research and extends it by reviewing the more recent compliance literature, incorporating more recent Wisconsin data and by making explicit comparisons between divorce and paternity cases.

Permanent Exits from Public Assistance: The Impact of Duration, Family, and Work

Gary D. Sandefur and Steven T. Cook

RPT 796. 1998. 25 pp.

(Social Forces, Vol. 77, no. 2 (December 1998), pp. 763-787)

This article uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to answer two questions raised in the recent debate over welfare reform: (1) Is the length of time that a woman receives Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) associated with the likelihood of permanently leaving AFDC? (2) Are marital status, childbearing, and qualifications for work associated with permanently leaving AFDC? We define a permanent exit as leaving the AFDC rolls and not returning within two years. The answer to the first question is that the likelihood of permanently leaving AFDC decreases with the length of time that women receive benefits after adjusting for other attributes of individuals and their families. This finding is robust across several, but not all, specifications of the model of permanent exits. The answer to the second question is that marital status, the number of children, and qualifications for work, as well as the availability of employment, are associated with the likelihood of leaving AFDC permanently. The effects of these characteristics are robust across all of the different specifications used in the analysis.

Poverty as a Public Health Issue: Since the Kerner Report of 1968

Gary Sandefur, Molly Martin, and Thomas Wells

RPT 795. 1998. 24 pp.

(Locked in the Poorhouse: Cities, Races, and Poverty in the United States, ed. Fred R. Harris and Lynn A. Curtis (Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, 1998), pp. 33-56).

One startling feature of poverty in the United States is that it is as prevalent now as it was in the late 1960s. This is in spite of the War on Poverty launched in the 1960s and subsequent efforts to make poverty policy more effective. Many have become disillusioned with government efforts to help the poor, given the failure of these efforts to reduce the level of poverty. Such a pessimistic view of government efforts ignores two essential aspects of poverty and government policy. First, government efforts to help the poor do in fact raise substantial numbers of people above the poverty line, and these efforts also do a good deal to ameliorate the effects of the poverty. Food stamps help feed those among the poor who would not otherwise eat, and Medicaid provides medical care to poor children who would not otherwise receive it. To criticize government programs that help the poor because they do not eliminate the problem of poverty is like criticizing aspirin because it does not eliminate the causes of headaches. A medical analogy, more specifically a public health analogy, can also illustrate the second aspect of poverty ignored by the critics of government programs. A certain level of poverty in our society is generated by the nature of the American economy. In an economy in which 5 percent or so of the population is unemployed in the best of times, and in which millions of Americans have full-time jobs that do not pay enough to lift them and their families above the poverty line, a substantial group of people will be poor.

Causes and Effects of Nonparticipation in a Child Support Survey

I-Fen Lin, Nora Cate Schaeffer, and Judith A. Seltzer

RPT 794. 1999. 24 pp.

(Journal of Official Statistics, Vol. 15:2 (1999), pp. 143-166).

This study uses the child support payment behavior of divorced nonresident fathers as a case study to examine two topics: the causes of survey nonparticipation and the effects of nonparticipation on survey estimates. This analysis includes 893 fathers who filed for divorce in Wisconsin between 1986 and 1988. The results suggest that nonresponding fathers differ from responding fathers not only in the amount of child support paid but also in several other ways. Moreover, factors that predict whether fathers will be located differ from factors that predict whether located fathers will participate in the survey. Characteristics that are associated with mobility, such as home ownership, predict location but not participation. We find significant negative correlations between the errors in the location and payment equations, and between the participation and payment equations. But the exclusion of unlocated fathers and nonparticipating fathers does not substantially change either the directions or the magnitude of the effects of factors predicting child support payments.

The Social Experiment Market

David Greenberg, Mark Shroder, and Matthew Onstott

RPT 793. 1999. 16 pp.

(Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 13:3 (Summer 1999): 157-172)

Social experiments are field studies of social programs in which individuals, households or (in rare instances) firms or organizations are randomly assigned to two or more alternative policy interventions, or "treatments." Treatments tested by social experiments have included negative income taxes, low-income housing assistance, co-insurance rates, re-employment bonuses, welfare-to-work initiatives, job training, time-of-day electric rates, and "case management" models of human service delivery. The results of such experiments not only supply the public with policy-relevant information, but also provide employment and insight to economists. This article examines the social experiments market and the characteristics of the rather complex product exchanged in this market.

How Does Adolescent Fertility Affect the Human Capital and Wages of Young Women?

Daniel Klepinger, Shelly Lundberg, and Robert Plotnick

RPT 792. 1999. 28 pp.

(Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 34:3 (Summer 1999): 421-448)

We estimate the relationship between teenage childbearing, human capital investment, and wages in early adulthood, using a sample of women from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and a large set of potential instruments for fertility-principally state and county-level indicators of the costs of fertility and fertility control. Adolescent fertility substantially reduces years of formal education and teenage work experience and, for white women only, early adult work experience. Through reductions in human capital, teenage childbearing has a significant effect on market wages at age 25. Our results suggest that public policies which reduce teenage childbearing are likely to have positive effects on the economic well-being of many young mothers.

The Chicago Child-Parent Center and Expansion Program: A Study of Extended Early Child Intervention

Arthur J. Reynolds

RPT 791. 1998. 38 pp.

(Social Programs That Work, ed. Jonathan Crane (Russell Sage Foundation, 1998), pp. 110-147)

The Child-Parent Center program was designed to promote children's school success by providing comprehensive educational and family support services spanning two important periods of development: the preschool years and the transition to formal schooling in the primary grades. Tracing the development of the 1989 graduates of the program up to age fourteen, findings indicate that large-scale programs can be successful in promoting the school success of economically disadvantaged children. Specifically, (a) any participation in the program was significantly associated with school performance up to eighth grade, (b) duration of participation was significantly associated with school performance, especially for children who participated for five or six years, (c) participation in extended childhood intervention to second and third grade yielded significantly better school performance than participation ending in kindergarten. Finally, longer-term effects of the program can be explained by cognitive-advantage and family support hypotheses, both of which are theoretically linked to the program. The pathways of effects are complex, however.

Government Mandates, Health Insurance, and the Deterioration of the Low-Wage Labor Market: Are They Connected?

Barbara L. Wolfe, Amy Wolaver, and Timothy McBride

RPT 790. 1998. 45 pp.

(The State of Social Welfare, 1997: International Studies on Social Insurance and Retirement, Employment, Family Policy and Health Care, ed. Peter Flora, Philip R. de Jong, Julian Le Grand, and Jun-Young Kim (Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1998), pp. 143-187)

This article addresses the question of the link between employer-provided health insurance and the level of employment, especially among low-wage or low-skilled workers. More precisely, it explores the question of whether the U.S. employer-based health insurance system, combined with its high cost and with regulation requiring that all full-time workers must be offered coverage, may be related both to a decline in coverage and to deterioration of the low-skilled labor market. Implications of the link for other industrialized nations are discussed.

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