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Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Teen Drug Arrests

Human Capital and Health Behavior

ISBN: 978-1-78635-466-2, eISBN: 978-1-78635-465-5

Publication date: 20 May 2017


This study investigates the effects of a broad-based policy change that altered maternal employment, family income, and other family characteristics on drug-related crime among youth. Specifically, we exploit differences in the implementation of welfare reform in the United States across states and over time in the attempt to identify causal effects of welfare reform on youth arrests for drug-related crimes between 1990 and 2005, the period during which welfare reform unfolded. We use monthly arrest data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports to estimate the effects of welfare reform implementation on drug-related arrests among 15- to 17-year-old teens exposed to welfare reform. The findings, based on numerous different model specifications, suggest that welfare reform had no statistically significant effect on teen drug arrests. Most estimates were positive and suggestive of a small (3%) increase in arrests.




Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD086223, as well as by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through their support of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey (Grant #s 67038 and 74260). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors are grateful to Randi Hjalmarsson and other participants of the Human Capital and Health Behaviour Symposium at the Centre for Health Economics at the University of Gothenburg May 19–20, 2016 for helpful comments. We are also grateful to Farzana Razack for valuable research assistance.


Corman, H., Dave, D.M., Kalil, A. and Reichman, N.E. (2017), "Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Teen Drug Arrests", Human Capital and Health Behavior (Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 111-142.



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