The past 15 years has been a period of active policy reform in the cash and near-cash social safety nets of both the United States and Canada. Perhaps more than any other area of social policy, programs in both countries aimed at low-income families and children have evolved from their pre- 1992 form. This paper examines this evolution across the two countries, both reviewing the existing evidence and providing additional analysis on how the programs have fared in achieving a broad set of goals. We focus on the two largest programs over this period: the US EITC and the Canadian NCB/CCTB. The evolution of these programs in both countries represents a significant move away from what preceded them and the programs in the two countries now share many similarities. However, we also note “small differences” across these programs that may matter, the largest of which is the work requirements across the two countries. In light of these changes, we examine trends in employment, poverty and family structure of the most affected families, across the two countries. We also review the existing evaluations of these policies and find that the programs in both countries have had significant benefits for children, increased employment for single mothers, and are associated with declines in poverty.
In this paper, I examine the effect of family co-residence and proximity on the labor force participation and working hours of Canadian women. I find lower labor market attachment for married women without young children who co-reside with their mothers (those women most likely to care for their elderly mothers) and for married women with young children who live more than half a day away from their mothers (those women least likely to benefit from the availability of family
provided childcare). I find no effect of proximity for single women with children on the extensive margin, but do find that they work fewer hours if they live far from their mothers. The results hold only for proximity to living mothers (as opposed to
proximity to widowed fathers), suggesting that it is the mothers themselves, and not merely the home location, that drives the results. I incorporate IV estimation using province of birth and whether one was born in the same province of either parent to estimate proximity, and find consistent results. To the extent that the positive effect of close proximity is related to the availability of grandchild care, policies that impact the labor force behavior of grandmothers may also impact the labor force
behavior of their daughters. Regional patterns in proximity suggest that national childcare and labor market policies may yield different results across the country.
Full employment is often recommended as the most reliable route out of poverty for low-income families, particularly families led by a lone mother. In combination with current fiscal and social policy shifts, this has led to changes in the way social assistance is administered, including requirements that those who receive assistance become gainfully employed once their children are a certain age—an age that varies across jurisdictions. In this study we interviewed 95 employed and unemployed Canadian lone mothers with young children about the relationship among family life, paid employment, and childcare. The paper describes the complex interrelationship of ideals of mothering, the meaning and value of paid work, and the role of reliable childcare for a sub-sample of employed lone mothers. The results indicate two key time periods when lone mothers weigh the benefits of paid work against other needs and values. The first occurs prior to employment and involves contemplating paid work, deciding to become an employee, and absorbing a shift in thinking about what it means to be a mother. The second occurs within the first year of paid work and involves a reconsideration of those issues and either a recommitment to employment or a temporary withdrawal from the labor force. Contributors to and influences on both of these periods are considered