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2020 Honors Thesis: Olivia Lofton


Olivia Lofton

Title of Thesis:

Kinship Guardianship: Understanding the Changing Incentives of TANF-recipient Families under Sanctions


Krzysztof Karbownik, Kyungmin (Teddy) Kim, Michael Carr (Mathematics)


This paper evaluates the effect of welfare sanctions on non-foster kinship care rates. With the passage of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), states were granted permissions to levy full-family welfare sanctions against recipient families failing to meet work requirements. At the same time, TANF granted child-only subsides to informal relative caregivers. I use a difference-in-differences model as well as an event study design to compare the relationship between timing of full-family sanction legislation and incidence of non-foster relative care in 48 states from 1989 to 2018. I find that full-family sanctions have a negative effect on non-foster kinship rates when only examining children likely to be placed into kinship care. I argue that full-family sanctions may have caused parental preferences to shift from placing children in non-foster relative care to instead placing children in foster relative care.

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