Among Poor Families, Greater Work Effort Associated With Better Child Outcomes
Resource type: News
Greater work effort by poor families is associated with better child outcomes, according to new Child Trends analyses of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The Well-Being of Children in Working Poor and Other Families: 1997 and 2004 finds: • Between 1997 and 2004, the well-being of children in working poor families improved significantly for 10 of the 15 measures available in both years and remained stable for the remaining measures. • In contrast, the well-being of children in non-working poor families improved significantly for only five measures and deteriorated significantly for four measures. • While the well-being of children in working poor families was not consistently better than for children in non-working poor families in 1997, by 2004, children in working poor families fared better than children in non-working poor families for 12 of the 17 measures available for that year. At the time welfare reform was implemented in 1997, there was concern that increased work by mothers, in response to the work requirements imposed by the new Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, might lead to deterioration in child well-being, since mothers would have less time available to spend with their children. While work effort of single mothers did indeed increase, the findings reported here suggest instead that many child well-being measures have risen for children in working poor families. The research brief is based on data from the 1996 and 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation.