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American Economic Review: Vol. 98 No. 5 (December 2008)

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Changes in the Consumption, Income, and Well-Being of Single Mother Headed Families

Article Citation

Meyer, Bruce D., and James X. Sullivan. 2008. "Changes in the Consumption, Income, and Well-Being of Single Mother Headed Families." American Economic Review, 98(5): 2221-41.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.5.2221

Abstract

We investigate well-being changes for single mother headed families targeted by recent tax and welfare reforms. Measured income changes sharply differ from consumption changes. We examine disaggregated consumption, time use, and health insurance coverage. Increases in housing and transportation spending mostly account for the rise in consumption in the bottom quintiles. We find modest improvement in housing quality, but the evidence is less strong at the very bottom. The consumption of nonmarket time for those in the bottom half of the consumption distribution falls sharply, indicating a loss in utility for those families if nonmarket time is valued above $3 per hour. (JEL D12, I31, I32, J12, J16)

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Authors

Meyer, Bruce D. (U Chicago)
Sullivan, James X. (U Notre Dame)

JEL Classifications

D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
I31: General Welfare
I32: Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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