Welfare and the Well-Being of Children: The Relative Effectiveness of Cash and In-Kind Transfers
NBER Working Paper No. 4539
Cash transfers to families with children are increasingly being restricted to parents who work, while families of non-working parents are receiving a progressively larger share of their benefits in kind. This paper provides an evaluation of the empirical evidence regarding the effects of in-kind and cash transfer program on the children who are their intended beneficiaries. A distinction is made between in- kind transfer programs, such as the Food Stamp Program, that provide transfers to families that are earmarked for certain purposes, and programs such as Medicaid that provide specific services directly to children. Although the evidence is incomplete, it suggests that in- kind programs have stronger effects on children than cash transfers, and that programs that target specific benefits directly to children have the largest positive effects.