A central theme of welfare reform is that recipients are required to engage in work activities. In many states, these work requirements apply to mothers whose children are a few months old, which may increase the costs and decrease the prevalence of breast-feeding. Given the substantial benefits of breast-feeding, any reduction represents an important negative consequence of these requirements. Our results suggest that in the absence of welfare reform, the national breast-feeding rate six months after birth would have been 5.5% higher in 2000. Such negative consequences of these policies must be weighed against potential benefits as states refine their welfare programs.
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Haider gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for grant support (Grant 00ASPE353A) under which part of this work was completed. The authors thank Marianne Bitler, Rebecca Blank, Janet Currie, Julie DaVanzo, Jeff Grogger, Jacob Klerman, Darius Lakdawalla, Elaine Reardon, two anonymous referees, and the editor for their helpful comments. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any of the sponsors or related agencies.
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Haider, S.J., Jacknowitz, A. & Schoeni, R.F. Welfare work requirements and child well-being: Evidence from the effects on breast-feeding. Demography 40, 479–497 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2003.0023