Marital Paths from Welfare to Self-Sufficiency: A Dynamic Analysis of Women’s Marriage Timing and Transitions out of and into Welfare

Tracy Roberts, University of Maryland
Steven P. Martin, University of Maryland

Promoting marriage as a path out of welfare dependency has become a policy priority. It is unclear, however, how effective marriage can be at stabilizing poor women’s family circumstances. To understand the effect of marriage on welfare transitions, we employ two models. The first model examines whether women exit welfare through marriage. The second model examines whether the timing of marriage affects the probability of return. Do women who marry in subsequent years after welfare exit have lower rates of recidivism than women who marry during a welfare spell? Our preliminary results suggest that women who enter marriage in the years following a welfare exit have lower recidivism rates than women who marry during a welfare spell. However, in the fifteen years following a welfare exit, recidivism rates are high for both groups of women.

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Presented in Session 90: Marriage and Public Policy