Welfare participation in childhood as a predictor of cigarette use in adulthood in the United States

Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Shiyou Wu, Qi Wu, Mark Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Smoking is widely acknowledged as a high-risk behavior associated with poor physical health outcomes. We use Add Health Wave I and Wave IV data (N = 15,701) to explore whether childhood welfare participation predicts smoking behaviors in adulthood. Method: We conducted propensity score matching and dosage analysis of welfare participation to explore whether childhood welfare participation had different effects on smoking behaviors in adulthood. We used 3 approaches for dealing with the survey weight and propensity score weights for post-matching regression analyses. Results: Adults who as children lived in families that participated in welfare programs were more likely to smoke when compared to young adults whose families did not participate in welfare programs. Being from a smoking household, having smoked before adulthood, having peer smokers, and race/ethnicity increased the risk for smoking. Protective factors associated with decreased smoking behaviors included being female, higher parental education, and being older. Conclusions: Risk related to cigarette use in adulthood varies based on welfare dosage in childhood. The development and implementation of interventions specific to subpopulations among welfare recipient families may make programs more effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-396
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Add Health
  • Cigarette use
  • Propensity score matching
  • Public assistance
  • Welfare participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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