Monthly Archives: January 2014

Yes, Women Have Babies to Get Welfare… Along with Numerous Other Factors

John Iadarola recently commented on a Louis Gohmert speech in the House of Representatives blaming welfare for causing women to make bad decisions.

I dont think any mom with absolutely no desire to have babies is going to suddenly have a huge one just because of welfare. But I don’t think it’s wrong to say that welfare can be an influencing factor on the decision. A mom who already had some desire to have a baby but before regarded the cons outweighing the pros only by a little might decide in the affirmative after factoring welfare into her decision.

For example, let’s say it takes 100 “satisfaction points”  before a mom decides to have a child. Maybe she has 95 right now, but by adding an expectation of receiving welfare benefits, she gets the extra 5 necessary points.

Iadarola brings up a study that found no statistical difference in the amount of children had between welfare recipients and non-welfare recipients. I’ve already been through the problems with empiricism in economics, so I don’t have to comment in detail about it again. It suffices to say for now that, clearly, the study does not disprove any causal relationship we garner from the logic I have described above. Individuals value more goods greater than less goods; as such, women will value more money over less money and it obviously will factor into their decisions. Only in cases where the women do not see the money received in welfare as a good, such as the case where one  finds the lack of self-reliance involved in accepting welfare as demeaning, will the causal relationship not be present.

What’s debatable is whether statistical analysis can be used along with judgment in deciding the size of the causal effect (this seems reasonable to me, but I haven’t made up my mind on it yet).

Finally, one side note, because I don’t want to let this slide: Iadarola is not necessarily correct when he criticizes Gomer for saying that in the 60s, he disliked the government’s policy. All that we can directly take from Gomer’s statement is that the policy began in the 60s, not that it was eating away at him in the 60s.

Photo Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight cc