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While there is a substantial body of work examining predictors and consequences of a wide array of childcare characteristics, there is a gap in the literature with respect to the effect of income on the stability of childcare arrangements. Quantitative studies conducted prior to welfare reform suggest that higher income is associated with a greater likelihood of moving from one arrangement to another (Blau 1991), while more recent qualitative studies demonstrate the difficulties that low income women have with maintaining stable care arrangements as they transition from welfare to work (Chaudry 2004). My dissertation attempts to fill this gap by using data from the Fragile Families study to examine the effects of income and public assistance on timing of entry into non-maternal care for infants and toddlers and on the stability of care arrangements used during the first three years of a child's life for a cohort of 2064 mothers. There are three major findings to this dissertation. Results from discrete-time hazard models indicate a positive association between household income and the hazard of entering care at each time point between the child's birth and third birthday. However, interaction models including public assistance participation and income reveal that the effects of income operate differently for those on public assistance prior to the child's birth than for those who were not. Higher income at the time of birth is associated with a greater risk of initiating care only for those mothers who participated in TANF. Multinomial logistic models estimating income based differences in type of care find that higher incomes were associated with greater risk of entering father care, center care or relative care arrangements for mothers who received TANF, but this was not the case for mothers who did not receive TANF benefits. For both measures of stability− number of arrangements and the hazard of initiating an additional care arrangement− I find that the children of higher-income mothers experience greater instability. However, these results do not persist once controls for characteristics of the mother, her living arrangement and work history are considered. For women on TANF, the positive association between income and the hazard of entry into care is likely an artifact of the work requirements associated with benefits. Entry into the labor force, as required to receive benefits, increases income and also creates a demand for non-maternal care. Increased reliance on center care for these mothers with TANF benefits might be the result of child care subsidies that provide access to formal care arrangements which would otherwise be unaffordable, while the findings relating to father care and relative care are likely a reflection of the lower costs associated with these types of care. Findings related to stability are consistent with previous studies by Blau (1991) in which the authors conclude that instability is a result of higher income parents opting up to more desirable forms of care. As such, the frequent transitions in care observed in the qualitative studies are not replicated here.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sociology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Karin Brewster, Professor Directing Dissertation; Melissa Radey, University Representative; Miles Taylor, Committee Member; Kathryn Tillman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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