Effects of Welfare Reform on Food Insecurity Across Generations
Hope Corman1, Dhaval Dave2, Ofira Schwartz-Soicher3, Nancy Reichman4
1Rider University, 2Bentley University, 3Princeton University, 4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

This study estimates the effects of welfare reform in the 1990s, which permanently restructured and contracted the cash assistance system in the U.S., on food insecurity—a fundamental form of hardship—of the next generation. An implicit goal underlying welfare reform was the disruption of an assumed intergenerational transmission of disadvantage; however, little is known about the effects of welfare reform on the well-being of the next generation. Using data from the PSID, this study exploits 3 key sources of variation in childhood exposure to welfare reform: (1) Risk of exposure across birth cohorts. (2) Variation of exposure within cohorts because different states implemented welfare reform in different years. (3) Variation of exposure among individuals the same age and with the same amount of exposure to welfare reform because of large variations in state policies. We assess effects both overall and across 1st-generation households with differing levels of human capital.