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Did Welfare Reform Differentially Influence the Fertility of Young Teens? Assessing the Success of the "Living Arrangement Rule" and the "Stay-in-School Rule."

June 2005

Leonard M. Lopoo, Department of Public Administration, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University; Thomas DeLeire, Congressional Budget Office.

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The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was designed to provide cash assistance primarily to fatherless children regardless of the age of the child's mother and her living arrangements. During the 1990s several states received and implemented waivers to their programs requiring teenage mothers younger than 18 to live with an adult parent or legal guardian and enroll in high school in order to receive benefits. Later Congress added these rules to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 making them applicable to teen mothers who enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. We examine whether the "living arrangement rule" and "stay-in-school rule" reduced fertility among women under 18 using natality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Our findings suggest that these rules led to a decline in fertility, primarily affecting non-Hispanic African American and non-Hispanic white teenagers. Our estimates imply that the percent decline in fertility rates postreform was 9.2 percentage points larger for teens aged 15 to 17 than for teens aged 18 or 19.

Key words: teenage childbearing, welfare reform

Marriage, Family Formation and Reproductive Issues, Welfare Reform and the Administration of Welfare Programs