Title: Child Well-Being and the Social Safety Net

Committee: James P. Ziliak (chair), Carlos Lamarche, Olga Malkova, Alison Gustafson (College of Agriculture, Food and Environment)

Job Market Paper

“Long-Run Impact of Welfare Reform on Educational Attainment and Family Structure” (link)
In the early 90's, the United States reformed its welfare system through state waivers and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. These changes altered family resources and potential investments for childhood human capital, which in turn could affect later adult outcomes. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I examine the long-run impact of growing up under welfare reform on adult education and family structure through age 28. I find that as children, these individuals have higher reading test scores by an average of 6% of a standard deviation. As adults, I find robust evidence that these treated individuals are on average 9% more like to graduate college. I find some evidence that they are more likely to be married and less likely to have a child out of wedlock. The impacts of welfare reform are larger for women than men for childhood test score and college completion, marriage rates, and out of wedlock births as adults.
JEL Classification: I38 J13 J24

Working Papers

“Food Insecurity in the PSID: A Comparison with the Levels, Trends, Determinants, and Correlates in the CPS 1999-2017” with Laura Tiehen and James P. Ziliak (link)
Food insecurity, defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food, is a substantial threat to public health in the United States. In 2017, nearly 12% of households reported being food insecure, affecting over 40 million persons. Numerous studies have documented that food insecurity is associated with substantive negative health outcomes among children and families, and leads to excessive health care expenditures. In this paper we compare the levels, trends, determinants, and correlates of food insecurity in the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to those from the official source of food security statistics in the U.S.—the Food Security Supplement of the Current Population Survey—from 1999-2017. The PSID, which was begun in 1968, is the leading longitudinal household survey on work, welfare, family structure, consumption, health, and wealth. The survey added measures of food security in the 1999-2003 waves, and again in the 2015-2017 waves. This offers the first opportunity to answer key pressing scientific and policy issues such as the persistence of food insecurity within and across generations, and how changes in food security affect and are affected by the level and change in consumption, wealth, and broader measures of health. This project aims to describe how well levels and trends in food insecurity in the PSID align with the CPS, and the sources of why they might differ. In addition, we examine the robustness of key model predictors of food insecurity—income, race, education, disability status, marital status—across the surveys. The results of the study will inform the research community utilizing the PSID for intra- and inter-generational food security research.

Works In Progress

“Welfare Reform and Children’s Health”

“The Adequacy of SNAP for Households with Adolescents” with Alison Gustafson and James P. Ziliak