Welfare reform and the subjective well-being of single mothers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although a large body of research examines the impact of welfare reform, there remains considerable uncertainty as to whether single mothers' well-being improved in the wake of these policy changes. Using unique data from the DDB Worldwide Communications Life Style™ survey, this paper exploits a large battery of survey questions on self-reported life satisfaction and physical and mental health to study the impact of welfare reform on the subjective well-being of single mothers. The identification strategy relies on a difference-in-differences framework to estimate intent-to-treat effects for the welfare waiver and TANF periods. Results indicate that the bundle of TANF reforms had mostly positive effects on single mothers' subjective well-being. These women experienced an increase in life satisfaction, greater optimism about the future, and more financial satisfaction. Furthermore, these improvements did not come at a cost of reducing mental and physical health. Welfare waivers, in contrast, had largely neutral effects on well-being. I provide indirect evidence that the increase in single mothers' employment after welfare reform can plausibly explain the gains in subjective well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-238
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

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well-being
welfare
reform
life style
optimism
communications
mental health
Welfare reform
Single mothers
Subjective well-being
uncertainty
costs
health
evidence
Well-being
Physical health
Mental health
Life satisfaction
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Single mothers
  • Welfare reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Welfare reform and the subjective well-being of single mothers. / Herbst, Chris.

In: Journal of Population Economics, Vol. 26, No. 1, 01.2013, p. 203-238.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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