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Economic incentives for financial and residential independence


In this paper we examine the impact of the resources of children and of their parents on the children’s transition to residential and financial independence. Previous studies of this transition focused primarily on the impact of family structure and parent-child relationships on the decision to leave home, but much less is known about the role of economic factors in the transition to independence. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) for the period 1968–1988, we estimate discrete-hazard models of the probability of achieving residential and financial independence. We find that the child’s wage opportunities and the parents’ income are important determinants of establishing independence. The effect of parental income changes with the child’s age. We also find some evidence that federal tax policy influences the decision to become independent, although the magnitude of this effect is quite small.

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Author information

Correspondence to Leslie A. Whittington.

Additional information

This research was supported by the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, Scientific Article A7766, Contribution 9087. We are grateful for the helpful comments of Greg Duncan, Joan Kahn, Sanders Korenman, and two anonymous referees. Saul Hoffman provided the AFDC data, and Mark Turner provided the minimum wage data. Marie Klotz, Susan Spika, and Lien Trieu provided valuable word-processing assistance. An earlier version of this paper was prepared for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Event-History Conference, held June 30–July 2, 1991 at Stanford University.

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Whittington, L.A., Elizabeth Peters, H. Economic incentives for financial and residential independence. Demography 33, 82–97 (1996). https://doi.org/10.2307/2061715

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  • Parental Income
  • Household Formation
  • State Unemployment Rate
  • Residential Independence
  • Average Exemption