Welfare work requirements and child well-being: evidence from the effects on breast-feeding

Demography. 2003 Aug;40(3):479-97. doi: 10.1353/dem.2003.0023.


A central theme of welfare reform is that recipients are required to engage in work activities. In many states, these work requirements apply to mothers whose children are a few months old, which may increase the costs and decrease the prevalence of breast-feeding. Given the substantial benefits of breast-feeding, any reduction represents an important negative consequence of these requirements. Our results suggest that in the absence of welfare reform, the national breast-feeding rate six months after birth would have been 5.5% higher in 2000. Such negative consequences of these policies must be weighed against potential benefits as states refine their welfare programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Social Welfare / trends
  • United States