How do the U.S and Canadian Social Safety Nets Compare for Women and Children?

Hilary Hoynes, Mark Stabile

NBER Working Paper No. 23380
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Labor Studies, Public Economics

The past 25 years has seen substantial change in the social safety nets for families with children in the US and Canada. Both countries have moved away from cash welfare but the US has done so relying more exclusively on inwork benefits with work requirements. This paper examines this evolution across the two countries and examines the effects on employment and poverty. In particular, we focus on the two largest programs over this period: the U.S. EITC and the Canadian NCB/CCTB. In light of these policy changes, we examine trends in employment and poverty of the most affected families -- single mothers with less than a college degree -- across the two countries. We find that employment improved substantially in both countries, absolutely and relative to a control group of single women without children. The cross-country differences in relative trends are mainly explained by differences in the labor market conditions. Poverty rates for single mothers also declined in both countries with more of the decline coming through market income in the U.S. and benefit income in Canada.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23380

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