Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Teen Drug Arrests

Monday, June 13, 2016: 1:35 PM
F55 (Huntsman Hall)

Author(s): Hope Corman; Dhaval Dave; Ariel Kalil; Nancy E. Reichman

Discussant: Jennifer Trudeau

This study exploits differences in the implementation of welfare reform across states and over time in the United States in the attempt to identify causal effects of maternal employment incentives, and by inference employment, on youth arrests for drug-related crimes between 1990 and 2005, the period during which welfare reform unfolded. We consider differential effects by gender, short-run effects for teens exposed to welfare reform as well as longer-term effects for young adults who came of age when welfare reform was implemented, and the extent to which effects appear to be stronger in states with more stringent work incentive policies, larger welfare caseload declines, and larger employment increases among low-educated unmarried mothers. The findings, based on numerous different model specifications, suggest that welfare reform increased teen drug arrests, but the results are preliminary, not fully robust, and should be further explored.