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Does Welfare Affect Family Processes and Adolescent Adjustment?

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Kahil, A., and Jacquelynne S. Eccles. 1998. "Does Welfare Affect Family Processes and Adolescent Adjustment?" Child Development, 69(6), 1597--63.

Recent welfare reform legislation requires increased parental work effort and imposes time limits on the receipt of federal assistance. These changes were based in part on assumptions that parental welfare receipt may be negatively related to family processes and children's attitudes and behaviors. Currently, researchers know little about the effects of welfare by itself relative to the effects of related variables such as family demographic characteristics, economic strain, and neighborhood factors on processes among families with adolescent children. This study investigates parenting behaviors, parent-adolescent relationships, and adolescent attitudes and behaviors in three family types. Families of adolescents ages 11-15 who received income from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in the previous 12 months are compared with poor families who have not received AFDC in the last year and with families who are neither poor nor welfare dependent. We found minimal support for the hypothesis that welfare is negatively related to family processes and adolescent attitudes and behaviors, although mothers receiving welfare report fewer effective parent management practices than their poor non-welfare counterparts. Implications of the findings for current social policy debates are discussed.

DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06179.x (Full Text)

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