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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Peters, Elizabeth H.; Plotnick, Robert D.; Jeong, Se-Ook
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    How will welfare reform affect family structure and childbearing decisions? To address this question we summarize changes in key elements of welfare policy as well as changes in closely related policies on child support enforcement and sex education and family planning programs. Drawing on a conceptual framework that highlights how incentives created by public policy can affect demographic behaviors, we conclude that, as Congress intended, reform has shifted welfare's incentives in directions that encourage marriage and discourage nonmarital pregnancy and childbearing, childbearing while on welfare, divorce, living independently from relatives, and avoiding child support responsibilities. We review the empirical evidence about welfare's effects on demographic behavior, including nonmarital childbearing, abortion, sexual activity, contraceptive use and pregnancy among teenagers, marriage and divorce, single parenthood, living arrangements, and nonresident parenting behavior. The general tenor of this evidence is that behavioral effects consistent with theoretical expectations and...

    How will welfare reform affect family structure and childbearing decisions? To address this question we summarize changes in key elements of welfare policy as well as changes in closely related policies on child support enforcement and sex education and family planning programs. Drawing on a conceptual framework that highlights how incentives created by public policy can affect demographic behaviors, we conclude that, as Congress intended, reform has shifted welfare's incentives in directions that encourage marriage and discourage nonmarital pregnancy and childbearing, childbearing while on welfare, divorce, living independently from relatives, and avoiding child support responsibilities. We review the empirical evidence about welfare's effects on demographic behavior, including nonmarital childbearing, abortion, sexual activity, contraceptive use and pregnancy among teenagers, marriage and divorce, single parenthood, living arrangements, and nonresident parenting behavior. The general tenor of this evidence is that behavioral effects consistent with theoretical expectations and policymakers' intentions do exist. Their magnitudes are small or uncertain. A tentative but reasonable "bottom line" is that one should not expect welfare reform to dramatically alter low-income Americans' demographic behavior, but one can expect it to have modest effects in the directions desired by policymakers. There is little or no evidence about how several important aspects of recent reform are likely to affect demographic behavior. More definitive assessments of reform's effects on such behavior will require substantial additional research. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Fein, David J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed...

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed couples are involved romantically around the time of birth but most of these relationships do not survive long after birth has stimulated interest in transition to parenthood programs (Dion et al., 2003). A similar body of descriptive evidence on low-income married couples is needed to support thinking about the broad population of interest, subgroups that might be particularly important to target, and the kinds of services and policy changes that may be most helpful.

    One key need is to document the degree to which marriage outcomes vary across different forms and levels of economic disadvantage. Next, we must ascertain how different individual, family, and environmental characteristics of disadvantaged couples are associated with marriage outcomes. Beyond simple measures like marital satisfaction, it will be useful to assess how more specific aspects of marital interaction and related psychological processes — the proximate targets of relationship skills programs — vary across groups. Needed are analyses both of variation in outcomes at a point in time, as well as of changes in outcomes for a population over time.

    This paper starts the enterprise by assembling and assessing recent descriptive statistics on the formation and stability, characteristics, and quality of marriages in the low-income population of the U.S. In addition to culling findings from published reports, it also provides new findings from several recent surveys. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Amato, Paul R.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2005

    How have recent changes in U.S. family structure affected the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the nation's children? Paul Amato examines the effects of family formation on children and evaluates whether current marriage-promotion programs are likely to meet children's needs.

    Amato begins by investigating how children in households with both biological parents differ from children in households with only one biological parent. He shows that children growing up with two continuously married parents are less likely to experience a wide range of cognitive, emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood but also in adulthood. Although it is not possible to demonstrate that family structure causes these differences, studies using a variety of sophisticated statistical methods suggest that this is the case.

    Amato then asks what accounts for the differences between these two groups of children. He shows that compared with other children, those who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive more effective...

    How have recent changes in U.S. family structure affected the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the nation's children? Paul Amato examines the effects of family formation on children and evaluates whether current marriage-promotion programs are likely to meet children's needs.

    Amato begins by investigating how children in households with both biological parents differ from children in households with only one biological parent. He shows that children growing up with two continuously married parents are less likely to experience a wide range of cognitive, emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood but also in adulthood. Although it is not possible to demonstrate that family structure causes these differences, studies using a variety of sophisticated statistical methods suggest that this is the case.

    Amato then asks what accounts for the differences between these two groups of children. He shows that compared with other children, those who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive more effective parenting, experience more cooperative co-parenting, are emotionally closer to both parents, and are subjected to fewer stressful events and circumstances.

    Finally, Amato assesses how current marriage-promotion policies will affect the well-being of children. He finds that interventions that increase the share of children who grow up with both parents would improve the overall well-being of U.S. children only modestly, because children's social or emotional problems have many causes, of which family structure is but one. But interventions that lower only modestly the overall share of U.S. children experiencing various problems could nevertheless lower substantially the number of children experiencing them. Even a small decline in percentages, when multiplied by the many children in the population, is a substantial social benefit. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brocksen, Sally M.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2006

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were...

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were calculated based on the size of the family and the cost of expenses such as housing and food expenditures. This study found that of the models presented here married families are not always financially better off when compared to single parent and cohabiting families. These findings demonstrate that if policy makers wish to support marriage among low income families they should first make marriage financially feasible for unmarried couples (particularly cohabiting couples) and create greater economic stability for couples that are already married. By providing consistent work supports (e.g. child care and health insurance), expanding programs that help low income families (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit), creating poverty measures that accurately reflect the real situation of low income families, and increasing the wages of low income workers, policy makers will create an environment where it is financially feasible for low income couples to marry and remain married. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Matthews, Hannah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    Reliable and stable child care helps parents retain steady employment and reduces workplace absenteeism. Working parents with affordable, dependable child care are less likely to face child care interruptions that can result in absences and other schedule disruptions in the workplace. Yet meeting the high costs of child care is difficult for low-income working families. (author abstract)

    Reliable and stable child care helps parents retain steady employment and reduces workplace absenteeism. Working parents with affordable, dependable child care are less likely to face child care interruptions that can result in absences and other schedule disruptions in the workplace. Yet meeting the high costs of child care is difficult for low-income working families. (author abstract)

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