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The Impact of Unemployment on Child Maltreatment in the United States

Elisabetta De Cao

No 837, Economics Series Working Papers from University of Oxford, Department of Economics

Abstract: Abstract In this paper, we show that unemployment increases child neglect in the United States during the period from 2004 to 2012. A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 20 percent increase in neglect. We identify this effect by instrumenting for the county-level unemployment rate with a Bartik instrument, which we create as the weighted average of the national-level unemployment rates across each of twenty industries, where the weights are the county-level fraction of the employed working-age population in each industry at the start of the sample period. An important mechanism behind this effect is that parents lack social and private safety nets. The effect on neglect is smaller in states that introduce longer extensions to unemployment benefits, and is greater in counties where an initially larger fraction of children are not covered by health insurance. We find no evidence that the effect is driven by alcohol consumption or divorce.

Keywords: child abuse and neglect; unemployment rate; recession; safety net; unemployment insurance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 J12 J13 J65 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem and nep-law
Date: 2017-09-25
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