Examining the Impact of Changes in Maternal Employment on High School Completion Among Low-Income Youth

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The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and decisions about its re-authorization have resurrected interest in the impact of maternal employment on child outcomes in poor families. The emerging evidence suggests that employment stability among former welfare recipients is a key factor in making successful transitions from welfare to work. This investigation explores how changes in maternal employment in poor families relate to high school completion among at risk youths. Our findings show that a substantial number of mothers experience unstable employment patterns. This instability is positively correlated with dropout among adolescents. The paper concludes with policy implications for the next phase of welfare reform.

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