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Increases in the number of children living in single-parent (usually female-headed) households and in the proportion of mothers who work outside their homes have raised concern in the United States about the effects of these trends on the well-being of children and the possible need for policy intervention. This paper discusses the arguments for and against policies that affect families. The authors review a number of such policies and what research suggests about their likely effects. The policies discussed herein include those concerning child support, welfare, income taxes, child and dependent care, family leave, family planning, programs to improve parenting skills and family function, and economic growth.

Originally published in: Population Index, v. 59, no. 4, Winter 1993, pp. 547-566.

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