NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Incentive Effects of Cash Transfers to the Poor

Anna Aizer, Shari Eli, Adriana Lleras-Muney

NBER Working Paper No. 27523
Issued in July 2020
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging, Children, Development of the American Economy, Health Economics, Labor Studies, Public Economics

All redistributive and social insurance programs trade off the potential benefits of transfers with the disincentives these programs generate. We investigate this trade-off using newly collected lifetime data for 16,000 women who applied to the Mothers’ Pension Program, the first cash transfer program in the US. In the short-run cash transfers reduced geographic mobility and delayed marriage of recipients but did not affect who they married or where they moved to. In the long run transfers had no effect on work, marriage or fertility behaviors. They also did not improve the economic conditions of recipients or their longevity.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27523

 
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