We document the demographic and economic forces underlying changes in income inequality among single mother families over the past three decades in the United States. Using decomposable measures of after-tax income-to-needs inequality, we examine within- and between-group inequality based on education attainment, age, past marital status, race, and employment status. We also conduct income factor decompositions to quantify the relative contributions of earnings, transfers, other income, and taxes to inequality.

Numerous studies have confirmed that race plays an important role in shaping public preferences toward both redistribution and punishment. Likewise, studies suggest that punitive policy tools tend to be adopted by state governments in a pattern that tracks with the racial composition of state populations. Such evidence testifies to the enduring power of race in American politics, yet it has limited value for understanding how disciplinary policies get applied to individuals in implementation settings.

Welfare reform’s success encouraging employment may be affected by the federal Food Stamp program because many households receive welfare and Food Stamps. Food Stamp benefits could discourage employment because benefits are reduced proportionally with income; alternatively, it could encourage employment by increasing stability and allowing more resources to be allocated toward employment-related expenses. I examine the effects of Food Stamps on exiting welfare and becoming employed for welfare recipients.

The goal of this study is to evaluate the effects of Medicaid/SCHIP eligibility and programmatic features on transitions from private insurance coverage among samples of American low-income children using monthly data from the 2001 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a nationally representative data set. The estimation approach combines multilevel modeling and event history analysis, including a robust array of variables measuring programmatic features, individual child, family, and state attributes.

Social policy, such as the legalization of abortion and the federal bans on lead in the 1970s, has been shown to significantly impact crime rates. With recent increases in juvenile arrests and violent crime rates, we explore whether further social policy—namely the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) welfare reform—has had an impact on crime. Our results suggest that stricter work requirements experienced by 13 to 15 year-olds increase their violent crime activity 2 to 4 years later.

For parents of young children the decision to work strongly depends on the availability of affordable child care. Child care costs can take up a large portion of a family budget and may serve as an obstacle to work.

Hunger is a serious threat facing millions of seniors in the United States. Despite this important public health threat, we know very little about the face of hunger among seniors, the causes of senior hunger, its consequences for the well-being of seniors, or what will happen in the next twenty years with respect to hunger among senior Americans.

The purpose of this report is to provide a selective survey of the literature on the economic consequences of child care for recipient families, and to relate the results to families residing in Kentucky using data from the Annual Social and Economic Study in the Current Population Survey. The survey is selective both because of its exclusive focus on child care research by economists and because the literature is vast even within economics such that only articles deemed to be important contributions to the labor supply and child care literature are included.

Natural disasters can conceivably have significant impacts on the “neighborhood sorting” of different racial or economic groups across intrametropolitan space. Using Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data we examine mortgage-financed homebuying activity within the New Orleans MSA before and after Hurricane Katrina. We find that, while the total amount of homebuying in the 7-parish New Orleans MSA was relatively unchanged between 2004 and 2006, homebuying in the city declined significantly, and declined most in places experiencing severe storm damage.

This paper uses administrative data from the University of Texas-Austin to examine whether high school peer networks at college entry influence college achievement, measured by grade point average (GPA) and persistence.