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Single Mother Work And Poverty Under Welfare Reform: Are Policy Impacts Different In Rural Areas?

September 2003

Bruce Weber, Oregon State University. Mark Edwards, Oregon State University. Greg Duncan, Northwestern University.

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During the 1990s, employment increased and poverty declined for single mothers in rural and urban areas. Our results suggest that, holding demographics constant, changes in welfare and social policy during this decade contributed to employment increases—but not to poverty reduction—for both rural and urban single mothers. If rural and urban demographics had been the same, the policy changes would have increased employment and reduced poverty more in rural areas. Without demographic controls, however, estimated policy impacts were no better in rural places. This suggests that rural demographic changes limited the policy impact on rural single-mother work and poverty.

Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market, Rural Poverty, Welfare Reform and the Administration of Welfare Programs