Measuring the Effect of the Generosity of Welfare Benefits on Maternal and Infant Health Among Low-Educated, Unmarried Women

Client: (Research)
Faculty: Amy Ellen Schwartz, Johanna Lacoe
Team: Rebecca DiBennardo, Blanca Esquivel, Kristin Van Busum, Alissa Vladimir, Elizabeth Wolff
Year: 2010
Single mothers comprise the majority of adult welfare recipients in the United States, and policies and programs that affect the health of this population may affect their children's health. Yet, there is little empirical evidence of how, and the extent to which, welfare benefits impact maternal and infant health. This study aimed to fill this empirical gap. By creating a variable for the generosity of welfare, the Capstone team examined how the generosity "bundle" of welfare benefits across states affected maternal health (prenatal care utilization) and infant health (birth weight) among low educated, unmarried women from 1996-2004. The team employed an individual unit of observation and a difference-indifference model with a comparison group in a time series and cross-sectional analysis to measure the cumulative effects of various welfare policies on maternal and infant health.