Discussion paper

DP13188 Single mothers and their children: Evaluating a work-encouraging welfare reform

Using rich administrative data from Norway, we evaluate a 1998 work-encouraging
reform targeted at single parents. We especially focus on educational performance for the children
of the involved single mothers. For these children, average school grades at age 16 dropped
significantly by 0.7% of a standard deviation per additional year that their mothers were exposed to
the reform. Furthermore, we find that the reform affected single mothers by increasing their working
hours (and thereby reducing their time at home). We find no average effect on disposable income
(mothers traded off reductions in benefits with increases in earnings). Thus, reduced parental time
at home seems to be the main mechanism for the observed moderate drop in children’s grades. In
line with this, we find that the reform increased the use of formal after-school care, and we find a
larger reform effect for children of mothers with no informal network to help with child care.

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Citation

Lommerud, K and K Løken (eds) (2018), “DP13188 Single mothers and their children: Evaluating a work-encouraging welfare reform”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 13188. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13188