Examining the persistence of public assistance participation from childhood into adulthood


Kim, Yuna; Perreira, Krista; Thirumurthy, Harsha; & Harris, Kathleen Mullan (2014). Examining the persistence of public assistance participation from childhood into adulthood. 2014 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


A key objective of public assistance programs is to provide a safety net for disadvantaged households and enable them to transition out of assistance and into improved economic well-being. Using data from Waves 1 through 4 of Add Health, this study will examine what factors predict public assistance or Medicaid receipt in adulthood and identify characteristics that influence the persistence of childhood public assistance or Medicaid participation into adulthood. Using linear probability models and a rich set of demographic and neighborhood controls, we estimate the reduced form association between public assistance or Medicaid exposure in childhood and public assistance or Medicaid participation in adulthood. To identify the mechanisms that explain the intergenerational transmission of public assistance, we estimate the probability of participating in public assistance or Medicaid in adulthoodusing an analytic sample that is restricted to individuals who received government support in childhood. We find that race and ethnicity do not explain the persistence of participation in government support programs. Rather, educational attainment (i.e. graduating high school) is a primary mechanism that explains the persistence of public assistance or Medicaid over time. These findings suggest that public assistance benefits are not sufficiently enabling children of recipients to complete the schooling necessary to ensure economic independence in the future.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2014 Add Health Users Conference


Kim, Yuna
Perreira, Krista
Thirumurthy, Harsha
Harris, Kathleen Mullan

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID