Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Welfare-to-Work Reform and Intergenerational Support: Grandmothers' Response to the 1996 PRWORA

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Welfare-to-Work Reform and Intergenerational Support: Grandmothers' Response to the 1996 PRWORA

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA; Pub. L. 104-193) in the United States was a major legislative reform whose main objective was to get low-income parents with children aged below 18 off welfare and into work. The reform replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and introduced the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Major reform components included a combination of stricter work requirements, time limits on benefits, and increased child care funding.

There is a general consensus in the literature that the reform helped decrease welfare caseloads and increased the labor supply of low-income mothers (Blank, 2002; Grogger & Karoly, 2005; Moffitt, 2002). The literature has, however, so far focused on mothers' behavior. If mothers are embedded within an intergenerational family network, other family members, such as the related grandmothers, may have also adjusted their behavior as an indirect consequence of the reform.

The intergenerational family forms a natural informal support network, and there is evidence that intergenerational transfers of both time and money are still prevalent in the United States, especially among low-income families (Bianchi, Hotz, McGarry, & Seltzer, 2007; McGarry&Schoeni,1995;Soldo&Hill,1995). According to the U.S. Census, approximately 7.5 million (10%) children under age 18 lived with a grandparent in 2010. There are also a considerable proportion of children benefiting from grandparent-provided child care even if the grandparent does not necessarily live in the same house. In 2011, 31.7% of children of pre-primary school age with a working mother benefited from grandparent-provided child care at least once a week, and 21.1% had grandparents as their primary source of day care during the week. On average, those preschoolers were spending 23 hours per week in grandparent care (Laughlin, 2013).

There is an expanding literature studying grandchild care and grandparents' economic behavior and well-being. Ying and Marcotte (2007) found that taking in a grandchild influenced the labor supply of grandparents, whereas Ho (2013a) found that the number of grandchildren was positively related to single grandmothers' grandchild care and labor supply. There are also concerns about potential negative associations between grandchild care and grandparents' health (Hughes, Waite, La Pierre, & Luo, 2007; Minkler & Fuller-Thomson, 2001). In this study, I estimated the effects of the PRWORA reform on grandchild care, financial transfers, and labor supply of single grandmothers related to disadvantaged mothers. Whereas grandmothers with adult children were not directly eligible to receive TANF and CCDF benefits (i.e., based on the age of their own children), the reform may have influenced them through the transfers of time and money that they made to their potentially eligible adult daughters.

I used data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS, for the analysis. The HRS comprises a biennial longitudinal data set starting from 1992 onward and has as its main respondents Americans born between 1931 and 1941, making them an ideal group for analysis because this age group tends to be a source of private support to their adult children (Cox & Raines, 1985; Gale & Scholz, 1994). The survey includes information on grandchild care and financial transfers as well as work status and demographics of respondents and their adult children.

With increasing life expectancies and a rise in single parenthood, the opportunities for multigenerational family support have increased considerably over the past few decades (Baker, Silverstein, & Putney, 2008; Bengtson, 2001; Pilkauskas, 2012). Understanding how a welfare-to-work reform targeting mothers may have also affected the related grandmothers is important to shed light on the policy relevance of such family support networks. …

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