Children of Welfare Recipients More Likely to Become Dependent on Government Handouts

One timeless question that social researchers have often asked regarding welfare assistance is whether such assistance is generational. In other words, if parents are dependent on welfare and other taxpayer-supported assistance programs, will their children become dependent as well?

According to a new study on the subject, researchers were not able to establish a firm “causal” relationship, but there is much empirical (observed) evidence and data to suggest that there could be a generational link.

As noted in a press release from the University of Chicago citing the study, a number of past studies have “shown that a child’s welfare use is correlated with a parent’s welfare receipt.” But, researchers have been unable to show a causal relation due to a number of unobservable factors across multiple generations, like recipients’ adverse environments or poor health that was inherited. Also, a dearth of large datasets that firmly link family members together across generations has prevented a more comprehensive analysis.

Still, there are links, scientists noted.

Empirical evidence exists

“These empirical challenges have meant that existing research has largely focused on documenting and observing the intergenerational correlations in various types of welfare use,” said Magne Mogstad, assistant professor of economics, a study author. “A causal interpretation remains elusive.”