Social Policies and Their Influence on Family Formation, Childbearing, and Resources
(Family and Child Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
While policymakers are often unaware of the unintended consequences of some of their social policies, social scientists have long considered them. This proposal panel will add to the research literature on the unintended consequences of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Support Enforcement Program, and increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities for families in the United States. More specifically, this panel asks if these programs affect marriage, childbearing, and the resources available to families.
The first paper evaluates the effect of one of our largest anti-poverty programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), on marriage and early childbearing among men and women. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the authors evaluate how policy-induced increases in EITC exposure between birth and age 15 affect subsequent marriage and childbearing between ages 18 and 25. Results suggest that exposure to the EITC in childhood significantly reduces the probability that women give birth by age 20, by age 25, and reduces the likelihood of marrying before age 24. They estimate that these delays in childbearing likely reduced social welfare expenditures between $107 and $225 million annually.
The second study examines how increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities affected marriage probabilities for pregnant Hispanic women in North Carolina. The authors hypothesize that ICE activities decreased marriage rates among Hispanics along three margins: deportations of Hispanic males; selective migration of Hispanics away from the areas under ICE scrutiny; or strains on relationship quality (either through increased psychological stress or decreased employment and earnings of the father). Though they cannot identify the exact mechanism, their study suggests that ICE enforcement influences marriage, with likely ramifications for the health and well-being of the mothers and children involved.
In the third study, the authors estimate whether the state minimum wage is associated with changes in a variety of child support compliance measures: the real dollar amounts of total cash, formal, and informal support received; indicators for the receipt of any formal or any informal child support and non-cash (in-kind) support; and the proportion of support received out of support due. They find that among custodial mothers due support, each one-dollar increase in state minimum wage levels is significantly associated with a $170 annual increase in formal cash support received by mothers. This amounts to about a 6.5% increase in the average amount of support received by mothers with a high school education or less (Grall, 2018). For the same group, each dollar increase was also associated with marginally significant (p<.10) increases in receipt of total cash support and in the probability that mothers received any formal cash support.