Getting a job is only half the battle: Maternal job loss and child classroom behavior in low-income families

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Abstract

This study uses data from an experimental employment program and instrumental variables (IV) estimation to examine the effects of maternal job loss on child classroom behavior. Random assignment to the treatment at one of three program sites is an exogenous predictor of employment patterns. Cross-site variation in treatment-control differences is used to identify the effects of employment levels and transitions. Under certain assumptions, this method controls for unobserved correlates of job loss and child well-being, as well as measurement error and simultaneity. IV estimates suggest that maternal job loss sharply increases problem behavior but has neutral effects on positive social behavior. Current employment programs concentrate primarily on job entry, but these findings point to the importance of promoting job stability for workers and their children. © 2011 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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