Public Assistance in America: Explaining Intergenerational Transitions and Persistence

Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Yuna Kim, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public assistance programs provide a safety net to low-income households and are intended to help them improve their economic well-being and transition off of government support and into employment. This study examines the intergenerational persistence of public assistance participation from childhood into adulthood with data from the Add Health study. Using linear probability models, we identify factors associated with downward economic mobility among adults who did not receive public assistance during their childhoods and upward economic mobility among adults who did receive public assistance during their childhoods. We find that 55% of adults who received public assistance in childhood do not receive public assistance in adulthood. Transitioning off of public assistance and upward economic mobility in adulthood is significantly associated with children’s educational attainment. Transitioning onto public assistance and downward economic mobility in adulthood is significantly associated with adolescents’ educational attainment, poor health, and risky health behaviors.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity