Friday, 14 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session I
The Effect of Parental Work History and Public Assistance Use on the Transition to AdulthoodStephanie C. Berzin, MSW, University of California, Berkeley, Allison C. De Marco, MSW, University of California, Berkeley, Terry V. Shaw, MSW, UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare, George J. Unick, MSW, University of California, Berkeley, and Sean R. Hogan, MSW, University of California, Berkeley.
Purpose: Recent public assistance policy and programs have extolled the virtue of work as the answer for reducing dependency. This reliance on parental work and decreased dependence on government assistance assumes that these solutions will improve outcomes for families in poverty. Though research has examined the impact of poverty on child and adolescent outcomes, little is known about whether parental work or the extent of public assistance use mediates these outcomes. This study examines the work history and public assistance use of parents and how this impacts their children's outcomes in the transition to adulthood. Specifically, outcomes related to youth public assistance use, income, and educational attainment are explored.
Methods: This study uses data from The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) Wave 1 (a nationally representative probability sample of 13,007 households) and Wave 2 (n=10,007). This data provides a unique opportunity to examine outcomes in the transition to adulthood for youth for whom significant data about their upbringing and their parent's characteristics are available. Examining older youth from the NSFH Wave 2 (n=835) and their parent's data from the NSFH Wave 1, researchers are able to link childhood poverty, parents' work history and extent of family public assistance use with transition outcomes. Bivariate and multivariate analysis, including linear regression, logistic regression, and multinomial logistic regression, were used to model outcomes.
Results: Findings indicate that parent's work history, amount of family income from work, number of years on public assistance, and amount of family income from public assistance were insignificant in every model related to young adult outcomes, including youth public assistance use, educational attainment, high school dropout, and youth income. This held true when examining both the full sample of older focal children and a subsample of youth whose families were at 200% or below poverty (n=182). Consistent with previous research, childhood poverty significantly predicted youth income in early adulthood, dropping out of high school, and educational attainment. Family public assistance use significantly increased public assistance use in early adulthood.
Implications: This study suggests that though poverty and family public assistance use do affect outcomes in the transition to adulthood, that parental work history and the extent of public assistance use do not affect these outcomes. Thus, current welfare legislation, which adopts a "work first" approach emphasizing increased work but not alleviating poverty, may not be helping youth in poverty successfully transition to adulthood.
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