Socioeconomic Outcomes of Youths Living in Poverty during the Post-1996 Welfare Reform Era

Yumiko Aratani, Columbia University
Yang Jiang, Columbia University

This paper examines the effect of the 1996 welfare reform on low-income youth’s outcomes in young adulthood. In the 1990s, there were major reforms in many of the social and health policies, which became the basis of the current U.S. safety net programs. The most significant policy changes were implemented under the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act. (PRWORA). Using two national data sets, the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 and 1997, we compared socio-economic outcomes of adolescents who grew up in poverty during the pre- and post-PRWORA era. The results showed that growing up in the post welfare reform era significantly reduced the likelihood of receiving welfare assistance but increased the likelihood of living in poverty during young adulthood. The findings indicate challenges that low-income youth are facing in their transition to the adulthood after U.S. social safety-net programs have shrunk in late 1990s.

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Presented in Session 185: Transitions to Adulthood