The Effects of Work-Conditioned Transfers on Marriage and Child Well-Being

A Review

by Jeffrey Grogger, Lynn A. Karoly

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Transfer payments to poor families are increasingly conditioned on work, either via wage subsidies available only to workers or via work requirements in more traditional welfare programs. Although the effects of such programs on employment are fairly well understood, relatively little is known about their effects on marriage or child well-being. The authors review a small number of studies that provide such information here. Their discussion of marriage is couched in terms of a theoretical model that draws from the efficient-household literature. The model is consistent with the wide range of effects that they observe and suggests an explanation for some of the observed differences. The theoretical framework in which they couch their review of results on children is likewise consistent with the observed variation between programs and among children of different ages.

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