Welfare-to-Work Reform and Intergenerational Support: Grandmothers' Response to the 1996 PRWORA

HO, Christine, Singapore Management University


The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA; Pub. L. 104-193) in the United States aimed at encouraging work among low-income mothers with children below age 18. In this study, the author used a sample of 2,843 intergenerational family observations from the Health and Retirement Study to estimate the effects of the reform on single grandmothers who are related to those mothers. The results suggest that the reform decreased time transfers but increased money transfers from grandmothers. The results are consistent with an intergenerational family support network where higher child care subsidies motivated the family to shift away from grandmother provided child care and where grandmothers increased money transfers to either help cover the remaining cost of formal care or to partly compensate for the loss in benefits of welfare leavers.