Abstracts of Reprints 810–829

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.

Historical and Life Course Trajectories of Nonmarital Childbearing

Lawrence L. Wu, Larry L. Bumpass, and Kelly Musick

RPT 829. 2001. 46 pp.

(Out of Wedlock: Causes and Consequences of Nonmarital Fertility, ed. Lawrence L. Wu and Barbara Wolfe [New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001], pp. 3-48)

We begin by examining change over time in the broad contours of nonmarital childbearing over the last twenty-five years. We find that increases in nonmarital fertility during the last twenty-five years have been driven largely by dramatic increases in nonmarital first births. Widely cited figures from vital statistics indicate that the proportion of births occurring outside of marriage has risen sharply: as of the mid-1990s, one in three births is nonmarital (Ventura 1995). We find that the proportion of first births occurring outside of marriage has increased even more dramatically. We estimate that more than four of five first births to black women and fully one of three to white women occurred outside of marriage in the mid-1990s; hence, the fraction of nonmarital first births for white women equals-and for black women substantially exceeds-the one-in-three proportion of all births occurring outside of marriage. These trends are mirrored in stark black-white differences in the union status of unmarried first births: of births to recent cohorts of first-time unmarried white women, over 40 percent occurred in a cohabiting union, while for black women the corresponding figure is 12 percent.

We conclude by examining the trajectories of women through marital and cohabiting unions and tracing how these union experiences relate to married and unmarried childbearing. To do so, we must describe initial marital, union, and fertility statuses and then follow women forward in time as these statuses change. To make this task manageable, we restrict our attention to a cohort of women with first births in the early 1980s.

The Role of Economic Incentives in Teenage Nonmarital Childbearing Choices

Barbara Wolfe, Kathryn Wilson, and Robert Haveman

RPT 828. 2001. 39 pp.

(Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 81 [2001], pp. 473-511)

In this paper, we explore whether behaviors of youths that are likely to result in a teen nonmarital birth event are influenced by their expectations of the net economic benefits or costs associated with the occurrence of such a birth. We posit and find that an increase in the perceived costs associated with the occurrence of a nonmarital birth would lead to a reduction in these risky behaviors, and to a lower probability of a nonmarital birth event. We represent these economic incentives by the income expectations of young women conditional on either giving birth as an unmarried teen or forgoing childbearing while unmarried and an adolescent. We also measure the effects of an extensive list of other factors, including the characteristics of the girl's family and its choices, the social and economic environment in which she lives (including policy-related factors, such as expenditures by states on family-planning programs and the generosity of Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and her own prior choices.

Intergenerational Effects of Nonmarital and Early Childbearing

Robert Haveman, Barbara Wolfe, and Karen Pence

RPT 827. 2001. 30 pp.

(Out of Wedlock: Causes and Consequences of Nonmarital Fertility, ed. Lawrence L. Wu and Barbara Wolfe [New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001], pp. 287-316)

We study two questions: Does a child born to an unmarried mother have lower attainments as a young adult owing to the lower life trajectory of the mother (relative to her circumstances had she been married)? Are these adverse effects of unmarried childbearing larger for the children of teen unmarried mothers than for those of older unmarried mothers? We use information on 1,899 children from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) who were born from 1965 through 1972 and then surveyed for each of twenty-one subsequent years (ending with the 1992 survey year). Our results suggest that very different family dynamics may lie behind the educational and teen fertility outcomes of children born to young unmarried mothers. Children of unmarried mothers are substantially less likely to graduate from high school than the children of married mothers, regardless of the mother's age at the time of birth. Therefore, the mother's marital status is a more important factor than her age in predicting the probability of high school graduation for her child. In contrast, the daughters of very young mothers are substantially more likely to have a teen nonmarital birth than the daughters of older mothers, regardless of the mother's marital status. For this outcome, the mother's age is a far more important factor.

How Teen Mothers Are Faring under Welfare Reform

Ariel Kalil and Sandra K. Danziger

RPT 826. 2000. 24 pp.

(Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 56, no. 4 [2000], pp. 775-798)

We examine socioeconomic and psychological well-being among 88 low-income minor mothers. Half of the young mothers receive cash welfare assistance and face new policy mandates regarding coresidence status and school attendance. Although most appear to be "complying" with the requirements of the new welfare rules and are satisfied with their current living arrangements, many are faring poorly on dimensions of psychological well-being and life stress. Receipt of cash welfare is not a significant correlate of school success, parenting stress, or economic strain. Teen coresidence with their mothers does not appear to buffer against the experience of child care problems, depressive symptoms, or domestic violence. We discuss the implications of the results for research, policy, and services for teen parents families.

Inequality and Delinquency: Sorting Out Some Class and Race Effects

Marino A. Bruce

RPT 825. 2000. 16 pp.

(Race & Society, Vol. 2, no. 2 [2000], pp. 133-148)

Both neo-conservatives who tend to blame young people for their lack of moral self control and neo-liberals who decry the enduring effects of racism and poverty operate from the presupposition that "ghetto youths" engage in a variety of self-destructive behaviors, including violence and substance abuse. While debating whether these effects can be understood in "cultural" terms as the products of upbringing, or as the consequence of a lack of opportunity, nearly all researchers couch their empirical frameworks in the image of a unidimensional scale of problem behavior that affects poor youths generally and poor Black youths particularly. This line of inquiry raises some interesting ideas, but does not tell us about the process through which race or class lead to delinquency. In this paper, I critically examine previous work and present empirical models specifying structural and intermediate mechanisms implicated in delinquent behavior. I analyze a national, multilevel sample of Black and White males in the 12th grade to assess the degree to which structural, family and peer factors influence two forms of delinquency-alcohol use and fighting. The results cast doubt on culture-based assumptions, force us to reconsider the theoretical underpinnings of a large segment of research in this area, and encourage us to think differently about linkages between race, class, and delinquency or crime.

Modes of Interaction between Divorced Parents

Christopher J. Flinn

RPT 824. 2000. 34 pp.

(International Economic Review, Vol. 41, no. 3 [August 2000], pp. 545-578)

I develop a model in which exact compliance with child support orders is synonymous with cooperative outcomes with respect to child good expenditures. The child support order imposed by institutional agents serves as focal point for the problem of dividing the gains from cooperation. Compliance is observed when the gains from cooperation exceed the value of noncooperation for both parents. The model is estimated using administrative data from the state of Wisconsin. My estimates imply that increasing child support enforcement activities may have weak effects on the welfare of children of divorced parents.

The Child-Parent Center Program and Study

Arthur J. Reynolds

RPT 823. 2000. 42 pp.

(Success in Early Intervention: The Chicago Child-Parent Centers [2000], pp. 22-63)

The Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program is a center-based early intervention that provides comprehensive educational and family support services to economically disadvantaged children and their parents from preschool to early elementary school. The CPC program was established in 1967 through funding from the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Initially implemented in 4 sites and later expanded to 25, the CPC program was designed to serve families in high-poverty neighborhoods that were not being served by Head Start or other early childhood programs. Although there have been many reports documenting the success of the CPC program in promoting children's school achievement, controlled studies have been rare. The Chicago Longitudinal Study was designed as a prospective investigation of the scholastic and social development of 1,539 children who graduated from all 20 centers that provided CPC preschool and kindergarten services in the Chicago public schools in 1986. Children in the comparison group had intervention experiences that were fairly representative of low-income families in Chicago in the middle 1980s and probably more extensive than many low-income families in other cities. The present study reports new outcome data for the active Chicago sample.

How Welfare Reform Is Affecting Women's Work

Mary Corcoran, Sandra K. Danziger, Ariel Kalil, and Kristin S. Seefeldt

RPT 822. 2000. 29 pp.

(Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 [2000], pp. 241-269)

The new welfare system mandates participation in work activity. We review the evolution of the 1996 legislation and how states implement welfare reform. We examine evidence on recipients' employment, well-being, and future earnings potential to assess the role of welfare in women's work. Policies rewarding work and penalizing nonwork, such as sanctions, time limits, diversion, and earnings "disregards," vary across states. While caseloads fell and employment rose, most women who left welfare work in low-wage jobs without benefits. Large minorities report material hardships and face barriers to work including depression, low skills, or no transportation. And disposable income decreased among the poorest female-headed families. Among the important challenges for future research is to differentiate between the effects of welfare reform, the economy, and other policies on women's work, and to assess how variations in state welfare programs affect caseloads and employment outcomes of recipients.

Neighborhood Attributes as Determinants of Children's Outcomes: How Robust Are the Relationships?

Donna Ginther, Robert Haveman, and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 821. 2000. 40 pp.

(The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 35, no 4 [Fall 2000], pp. 603-642)

Estimates of neighborhood effects on children's outcomes vary widely among the studies that seek to identify their existence and magnitude, reflecting substantial variation in data and model specification. Here, we review that literature, and ask if the disparity in estimates of neighborhood effects may reflect the differences among studies in the specification of family characteristics, and hence omitted variables bias. We report a systematic set of robustness results for three youth outcomes (high school graduation, the number of years of completed schooling, and teen nonmarital childbearing) using data on about 2,600 children from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We observe these children over a period of at least 21 years and have included an extensive set of neighborhood variables for these individuals measured over the entire school-age period. We measure the relationship of these neighborhood variables to the three outcomes, moving from basic models containing no individual and family characteristic variables to models containing an extensive set of individual and family statistical controls. We conclude that the reliability of estimates of these impacts may be an artifact of the degree to which family background is characterized in model specification. Confidence that reported neighborhood effects reveal true relationships requires statistical controls for the full range of family and individual background that may also influence children's attainments; not all variables with coefficients showing asterisks have significant effects.

Has Macroeconomic Performance Regained Its Antipoverty Bite?

Robert Haveman and Jonathan Schwabish

RPT 820. 2000. 13 pp.

(Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 18, no 4 [October 2000], pp. 415-427)

From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, several important studies examined the statistical relationship between the U.S. official poverty rate and overall economic performance. Most of these studies focused on the apparent break in this relationship beginning in the late 1970s or early 1980s. In this article, we present the results of our study of the relationship between macroeconomic performance and the poverty rate, using annual time-series data on macroeconomic variables, such as the unemployment rate and per-capita GDP growth from 1959 through 1998. Like these earlier studies, we also find that economic performance had a smaller antipoverty effect during the 1970s and 1980s than it did in earlier years. However, our estimates suggest that the weakened economic growth-poverty relationship may have been an aberration of this period and that the expected relationship of the 1960s has again been reestablished in the 1990s. This is true even after accounting for changes in earnings inequality over the entire period.

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Neighborhood Deprivation Affects Children's Mental Health: Environmental Risks Identified in a Genetic Design

Avshalom Caspi, Alan Taylor, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Robert Plomin

RPT 819. 2000. 5 pp.

(Psychological Science, Vol. 11, no. 4 (July 2000), pp. 338-342)

The possibility that neighborhood conditions affect children's development has captured much attention because of its implications for prevention. But does growing up in deprived neighborhoods matter above and beyond a genetic liability to behavior problems, if genetically vulnerable families tend to concentrate in poor neighborhoods? A nationwide study of 2-year-old twins shows that children in deprived neighborhoods were at increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems over and above any genetic liability. Environmental factors shared by members of a family accounted for 20% of the population variation in children's behavior problems, and neighborhood deprivation accounted for 5% of this family-wide environmental effect. The results suggest that the link between poor neighborhoods and children's mental health may be a true environmental effect, and demonstrate that genetic designs are environmentally informative and can be used to identify modifiable risk factors for promoting child health.

Food Insufficiency and Material Hardship in Post-TANF Welfare Families

Mary E. Corcoran, Colleen M. Heflin, and Kristine Siefert

RPT 818. 2000. 28 pp.

(Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 60, no 4 (1999), pp. 1395-1422)

This article uses a newly available dataset on welfare recipients in Michigan to examine the prevalence and correlates of food insufficiency and material hardship in the new welfare caseload. The authors found that twenty-five percent of recipients report that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat, and that thirty-six percent experienced one or more of the following hardships: food insufficiency, eviction, homelessness, or having their utilities cut off. The strongest predictors of food insufficiency and/or material hardship were: lack of a high school diploma, low work experience, alcohol and drug dependence, physical health problems, depression, and domestic violence.

Attrition in the New Beneficiary Survey and Followup, and Its Correlates

Kate Antonovics, Robert Haveman, Karen Holden, and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 817. 2000. 10 pp.

(Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63, no. 1 (2000), pp. 40-49, Washington, DC: Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics)

In this article we explore the extent of and reasons for attrition in the New Beneficiary Survey (NBS) between the first interview in 1982 and the followup interview in 1991. We examine a variety of potential determinants of attrition, separating the probability of attrition due to death from a refusal to be interviewed. Because the NBS sample is drawn from and linked to Social Security administrative records, information on mortality as a cause of attrition is exact. Hence, we are able to examine differences in the patterns and predictors of attrition due to these two causes of attrition and differences between attrition among retired and disabled workers.

The Economics of Disability and Disability Policy

Robert Haveman and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 816. 2000. 57 pp.

(Handbook of Health Economics, Volume 1A, ed. A. J. Culyer and J. P. Newhouse (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2000), pp. 995-1051)

We discuss and critique the main lines of economic research that address the economic status and behavior of the working-age population of people with disabilities. We define this population as those with physical or mental limitations that impede their daily activities or their productivity on the job. Using this definition, we assess the prevalence, trend, and composition of the population of disabled working-aged people in the United States and other Western societies, and document the extent of market work among this population. Such market work contributes to the economic well-being of the working-age disabled, but for most of them, income from public transfers and from the earnings of other household members are crucial in determining the level of family economic well-being. Relative to the nondisabled, those with disabilities have substantially lower levels of economic well-being in spite of public income support programs. While public income support is important in sustaining the level of well-being of the disabled, these policies also have serious incentive effects, especially labor supply disincentives. We document these incentive effects in US policy, and review the research studies that estimate the response of disabled people to these incentives. In addition to income support policy, we also describe public policy toward disabled people associated with antidiscrimination legislation, rehabilitation and training programs, income support for poor disabled children, and public regulations and financial support for special education in schools. We conclude by comparing US disability policy with that in other Western industrialized countries and identifying research issues that are relevant to all societies with advanced policies toward working-age people with disabilities.

The Twentieth-Century Record of Inequality and Poverty in the United States

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

RPT 815. 2000. 51 pp.

(The Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. 3: The Twentieth Century, ed. Stanley Engerman and Robert Gallman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 249-299)

In broad terms the chronology of U.S. inequality in the twentieth century is this: During the first three decades it was high and rising. It peaked at the worst of the Depression, fell gradually as America climbed out of the Depression; and then fell abruptly as America plunged into World War II. After World War II inequality continued to trend downward, but at a much slower rate, until 1967 or thereabouts. During the 1970s it began creeping upward, and during the 1980s and 1990s it shot upward, returning to its 1945 level. Whether inequality will reach its 1920s level remains to be seen. What caused these trends and cycles in the level of inequality? Beyond the rhythm associated with business cycles (including the Great Depression), we propose three broad sets of explanatory factors: the distribution of growth across sectors, demographic changes, and World War II.

Our story about poverty rates is much simpler. Over the long term, economic growth unambiguously reduces poverty. Although the data do not allow us to be precise about the poverty rate in a given year during the first half of the century, the long-term trend in the incidence of poverty was clearly negative. For the second half of the century we can securely assert that for poverty to decline, mean income had to rise. The story needs to be refined somewhat by noting that increasing inequality can slow or offset the reduction in the poverty rate produced by rising mean income, as the 1970s and especially the 1980s and 1990s illustrate. Also beginning at least as early as World War II, a rise in the proportions of single-mother families and of elderly families living independently has generally retarded progress against poverty.

Wisconsin's W-2 Program: Welfare as We Might Come to Know It?

Thomas Kaplan

RPT 814. 2000. 42 pp.

(Learning from Leaders: Welfare Reform Politics and Policy in Five Midwestern States, ed. Carol S. Weissert (Albany, New York: Rockefeller Institute Press, 2000), pp. 77-118)

This chapter describes the design and early implementation of Wisconsin's welfare reform plan, Wisconsin Works (W-2). A small team of appointees in the administration of Governor Tommy Thompson, with assistance from staff in the Hudson Institute, developed the original W-2 proposal, which contained several unusual features: prompt financial penalties for families not complying with work requirements, a heavy dependence on private agencies for the operation of W-2, the full pass-through of all child support payments to custodial parents, and a greater emphasis on the need of program participants to comply with requirements than on the responsibility of government to provide work or training opportunities. The Wisconsin legislature, including its minority Democratic party, accepted most provisions of W-2, altering it primarily to increase public child care benefits. The chapter discusses reasons behind that consensus and also describes the first 18 months of W-2 implementation. The most notable features of early implementation were much smaller caseloads than had been anticipated, greater than expected resources for each remaining W-2 case, and controversies concerning how to apportion unspent funds.

The Growth in U.S. Male Earnings Inequality: Changing Wage Rates or Working Time?

Robert H. Haveman and Larry Buron

RPT 813. 2000. 22 pp.

(Journal of Income Distribution, Vol. 8 (1998), pp. 255-276)

Increasing earnings inequality among working-age males since the early 1970s has been documented in several studies, some of which have also apportioned the change due to the inequality in wage rates and working time. This study presents an alternative decomposition using earnings capacity and earnings capacity utilization. We find that increases in the inequality of working time accounts for at least 30 percent and perhaps, as much as 60 percent of the increase in earnings inequality. We also show the sensitivity of measures of earnings inequality and its determinants to the exclusion of jobless males from the estimation.

Welfare to Work in the U.S.: A Model for Other Developed Nations?

Robert Haveman and Barbara Wolfe

RPT 812. 2000. 20 pp.

(International Tax and Public Finance, Vol. 7, no. 1 (February 2000), pp. 95-114)

The 1996 U.S. welfare reform legislation established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF represents the ascendance of the view that market work should be substituted for benefit recipiency. We describe the problems inherent in U.S. social welfare policy prior to TANF (emphasizing its serious labor supply disincentives), catalogue the wide variety of economic changes implicit in TANF, and describe the policies undertaken by the state of Wisconsin, a leader in implementing the new federal policy. We conclude by asking if this U.S. reform can serve as a model for other nations.

Violence among African Americans: A Conceptual Assessment of Potential Explanations

Marino A. Bruce

RPT 811. 2000. 23 pp.

(Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Vol. 16, no. 2 (May 2000), pp. 171-193)

An overwhelming majority of studies examining the relationship between race and criminality uses racial composition as a proxy for cultural context or simply race effects without actually specifying what it may or may not be capturing. This ambiguous operationalization neglects the dynamic nature of race/class stratification and the more general patterning of opportunity and spatial concentration. Inroads toward a better understanding of race/racial concentration and its relation to violence and criminological outcomes more generally can be made with an alteration of the current conceptual landscape. This article facilitates the reconceptualization process by critically examining current research and presenting a conceptual framework illustrating that race effects on violence are linked to very tangible macrostructural, normative, and recursive dynamics that are sensitive to the local and historical context within which most African Americans reside.

Perceived Fairness and Compliance with Child Support Obligations

I-Fen Lin

RPT 810. 2000. 11 pp.

(Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 62 (May 2000), pp. 388-398)

This paper examines whether perceptions of fairness motivate fathers to pay child support and whether perceptions of fairness interact with routine income withholding in collecting payments. Using a study of 392 nonresident fathers who filed for divorce between 1986 and 1988 in the state of Wisconsin, I found that both perceived fairness and income withholding increase fathers' compliance with child support obligations. The effects of these two strategies on compliance are not additive, however. If fathers think their child support orders are fair, the use of routine income withholding does not add to compliance.

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