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Time-inconsistency and welfare program participation: evidence from the NLSY

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Fang, H.M., and Daniel Silverman. 2009. "Time-inconsistency and welfare program participation: evidence from the NLSY." International Economic Review, 50(4): 1043-1077.

We empirically implement a dynamic structural model of labor supply and welfare program participation for agents with potentially time-inconsistent preferences. Using panel data on the choices of single women with children from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLSY) 1979, we provide estimates of the degree of time-inconsistency, and of its influence on the welfare take-up decision. With these estimates, we conduct counterfactual experiments to quantify a measure of the utility loss stemming from the inability to commit to future decisions, and the potential gains from commitment mechanisms such as welfare time limits and work requirements.

Country of focus: United States.

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