Federal Financial Aid and Family Formation: Examining the Social Security Student Benefit Program

Original Paper

Abstract

A broad empirical literature asks if social policies designed to provide benefits to low-income families also affect family formation patterns. While most of the evidence suggests that family formation effects are small at best, and often nonexistent, recent research argues that policies that alter budget constraints considerably should have greater family formation impacts. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the Social Security Student Benefit Program (SSSBP), a program designed to provide large higher education subsidies for the children of disabled, retired, or deceased parents. Conditions for receipt of SSSBP created strong incentives to delay marriage. Utilizing data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, and a difference-in-differences model, we found that women potentially qualifying for the SSSBP were much less likely to marry before age 22 and were older when they had children, while the program did not influence the probability of women ever marrying or having children. Impacts on men, however, were negligible.

Keywords

Social Security Student Benefits Program Tuition assistance Family formation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful for comments from Sarah Hamersma, Bob Bifulco, and Len Burman on an earlier version of this paper. The authors thank Susan Dynarski for sharing her Stata code from her 2003 article “Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion” published in the American Economic Review.

References

  1. Aizer, A., & McLanahan, S. (2006). The impact of child support enforcement on fertility, parental investments, and child well-being. Journal of Human Resources, 41(1), 28–45. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40057256.
  2. Becker, G. (1960). An economic analysis of fertility. In National Bureau of Economic Research (Ed.), Demographic and economic change in developed countries (pp. 225–256). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bitler, M., & Zavodny, M. (2010). The effect of medicaid eligibility expansions on fertility. Social Science and Medicine, 71, 918–924.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.05.046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Committee on Ways and Means. (1979). Review of the social security student benefit program. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  5. Committee on Ways and Means. (1982). Implementation of 1981 Reconciliation Act repeal of the social security benefit. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  6. DeLeire, T., Lopoo, L. M., & Simon, K. I. (2011). Medicaid expansions and fertility in the United States. Demography, 48(2), 725–747.  https://doi.org/10.1007/S13524-011-0031-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. DeWitt, L. (2001). The history of social securitystudentbenefits (Research Note 11). Retrieved from Social Security Administration website http://www.ssa.gov/history/studentbenefit.html.
  8. Dynarski, S. M. (2003). Does aid matter? Measuring the effect of student aid on college attendance and completion. American Economic Review, 93(1), 279–288.  https://doi.org/10.1257/000282803321455287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fletcher, J. M. (2012). The effects of teenage childbearing on the short- and long-term health behaviors of mothers. Journal of Population Economics, 25(1), 201–218.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-011-0381-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fletcher, J. M., & Wolfe, B. L. (2012). The effects of teenage fatherhood on young adult outcomes. Economic Inquiry, 50(1), 182–201.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2011.00372.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Garfinkel, I., Huang, C., McLanahan, S. S., & Gaylin, D. S. (2003). The role of child support enforcement and welfare in non-marital childbearing. Journal of Population Economics, 16, 55–70.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s001480100108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Geronimus, A. T., & Korenman, S. (1992). The socioeconomic consequences of teen childbearing reconsidered. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 107(4), 1187–1214.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2118385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Goldrick-Rab, S., Kelchen, R., Harris, D. N., & Benson, J. (2016). Reducing income inequality in educational attainment: experimental evidence on the impact of financial aid on college completion. American Journal of Sociology, 121(6), 1762–1817.  https://doi.org/10.1086/685442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grogger, J., Karoly, L. A., & Klerman, J. A. (2002). Consequences of welfare reform: A research synthesis (document no. DRU-2676- DHHS). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  15. Herbst, C. M. (2011). The earned income tax credit and abortion. Social Science Research, 40, 1638–1651.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.05.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hotz, V. J., McElroy, S. W., & Sanders, S. (2005). Teenage childbearing and its lifecycle consequences: Exploiting a natural experiment. Journal of Human Resources, 40(3), 683–715. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4129557.
  17. Kearney, M. S. (2004). Is there an effect of incremental welfare benefits on fertility behavior? A look at the family cap. Journal of Human Resources, 39, 137–151.  https://doi.org/10.2307/3559016.Google Scholar
  18. Lopoo, L. M., & DeLeire, T. (2006). Did welfare reform influence the fertility of young teens? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 25(2), 275–298.  https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.20173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lopoo, L. M., & Raissian, K. M. (2012). Natalist policies in the United States. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 31(4), 905–946.  https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.21646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lopoo, L. M., & Raissian, K. M. (2014). U.S. social policy and family complexity. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 654(1), 213–230.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716214530372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mathews, T. J., & Hamilton, B. E. (2002). Mean age of mother, 1970–2000. National vital statistics reports (Vol. 51, No. 1). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  22. Mellor, E. F. (1985). Weekly earnings in 1983: A look at more than 200 occupations. Monthly Labor Review, 108(1), 54–59. Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1985/01/rpt1full.pdf.
  23. Moffitt, R. (2003). The temporary assistance for needy families program. In R. Moffitt (Ed.), Means-tested transfer programs in the United States (pp. 291–363). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Murray, C. A. (1984). Losing ground: American social policy 1950-1980. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Office of Comptroller General. (1979). Social Security student benefits for postsecondary students should be discontinued. Washington, DC: US General Accounting Office.Google Scholar
  26. Plotnick, R. D., Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S. S., & Ku, I. (2004). Better child support enforcement: Can it reduce teenage premarital childbearing? Journal of Family Issues, 25(5), 634–657.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X03258311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Scott-Clayton, J., & Zafar, B. (2016). Financial aid, debt management, and socioeconomic outcomes: Post-College effects of merit-based aid (working paper no. 22574). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  28. US Bureau of the Census. (2004). Table MS-2. Estimated median age at first marriage, by sex: 1890-Present. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabMS-2.pdf.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Research on PovertyUniversity of Wisconsin – MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations