The Impact of Welfare Reform on Female Headship Decisions
While much of the focus of recent welfare reforms has been on moving recipients from welfare to work, many reforms were also directed at decisions regarding living arrangements, pregnancy, marriage and cohabitation. This study assesses the impact of welfare reform waivers and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs on women's decisions to become unmarried heads of families, controlling for confounding influences from local economic and social conditions. The study pools the 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1996 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which span the period when many states began adopting welfare waivers and implementing TANF. It estimates logit models of the incidence of female headship and state-stratified, Cox proportional hazard models of the rates of entry into and exit from headship. The study finds little consistent evidence that waivers affected female headship of families.