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Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects

Bruce Meyer and Dan Rosenbaum

JCPR Working Papers from Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research

Abstract: This paper has been published as: Bruce Meyer and Dan Rosenbaum. 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and Its Effects," National Tax Journal 53(4, part 2): 1027-1062. We describe the enormous changes in social and tax policy in recent years that have encouraged work by single mothers. We document the changes in federal and state income taxes, AFDC and Food Stamp benefits, Medicaid, training, and child care programs. We describe the quantitative importance of these changes and their timing. We also describe how these changes differed across states and show how they affected families with different numbers and ages of children and with different family incomes. We then examine whether the changes in employment rates over time for different demographic groups and states are consistent with a causal effect of these policies on employment. We use multiple comparison groups and two datasets over a long time period. The results support the more structural findings in Meyer and Rosenbaum (1999a) of substantial EITC effects on employment as well as the findings in Eissa and Liebman (1996) and Ellwood (1999).

Date: 1999-12-31
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