Kathryn Edin

Kathryn Edin
Johns Hopkins University | JHU · Department of Sociology

Doctor of Philosophy

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87
Publications
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Publications

Publications (87)
Article
Full-text available
In this essay, we explore how working-class men describe their attachments to work, family, and religion. We draw upon in-depth, life history interviews conducted in four metropolitan areas with racially and ethnically diverse groups of working-class men with a high school diploma but no four-year college degree. Between 2000 and 2013, we deployed...
Article
Since the early 1990s, the social safety net for families with children in the United States has undergone an epochal transformation. Aid to poor working families has become more generous. In contrast, assistance to the deeply poor has become less generous, and what remains more often takes the form of in-kind aid. A historical view finds that this...
Article
The public safety net has increasingly functioned as a system that rewards work, but many low-wage workers now face a double bind: unstable incomes and volatile expenses. We ask how low-wage workers make resource allocation decisions under conditions of uncertainty by examining how they spend and save their tax refunds. Using data from in-depth int...
Article
Financial stability depends on emergency savings. Low-wage workers regularly experience drops in income and unexpected expenses. Households with savings absorb these financial shocks but most low-income Americans lack rainy day savings. Therefore, even a small shock, like car repairs, can result in a cascade of events that throws a low-income famil...
Article
Full-text available
To reduce child poverty and income instability, and eliminate extreme poverty among families with children in the United States, we propose converting the Child Tax Credit and child tax exemption into a universal, monthly child allowance. Our proposal is based on principles we argue should undergird the design of such policies: universality, access...
Article
How the EITC supports working families without imposing stigma.
Book
The events of April 2015 catapulted Baltimore onto the national (and international) stage. The story is now well known. On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray, a young African American, was taken into police custody after making eye contact with officers patrolling near the Gilmor Homes. Gray died a week later from the injuries he sustained during his sub...
Article
Shaefer and Edin (2013) have found a large rise in “extreme poverty”—defined as cash income of no more than $2 per person per day, for a month or calendar quarter—among U.S. households with children between 1996 and 2011. This article explores some underlying dynamics of this phenomenon, referred to here as “$2-a-day poverty,” presenting evidence f...
Chapter
Full-text available
There is a growing social class divide in the American family. While the most-educated couples are enjoying greater stability in family life than in previous decades, the opposite is true for those at the bottom of the distribution. For men, in particular, the least educated are more likely to become fathers in their early twenties, to have childre...
Article
Full-text available
Money has meaning that shapes its uses and social significance, including the monies low-income families draw on for survival: wages, welfare, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This study, based on in-depth interviews with 115 low-wage EITC recipients, reveals the EITC is an unusual type of government transfer. Recipients of the EITC say the...
Article
Full-text available
Past child support research has largely focused on cash payments made through the courts (formal support) or given directly to the mother (informal support) almost to the exclusion of a third type: non-cash goods (in-kind support). Drawing on repeated, semistructured interviews with nearly 400 low-income noncustodial fathers, the authors found that...
Article
Men who have children with several partners are often assumed to be "deadbeats" who eschew their responsibilities to their children. Using data from the nationally representative National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort (NLSY-97), we show that most men in complex families intensively parent the children of one mother while being less invol...
Article
This study documents an increase in the prevalence of extreme poverty among US households with children between 1996 and 2011 and assesses the response of major federal means-tested transfer programs. Extreme poverty is defined using a World Bank metric of global poverty: $2 or less, per person, per day. Using the 1996–2008 panels of the Survey of...
Book
Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as "deadbeat dads." Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get preg...
Article
Unmarried parents have less stable unions than married parents, but there is considerable debate over the sources of this instability. Unmarried parents may be more likely than married parents to end their unions because of compositional differences, such as more disadvantaged personal and relationship characteristics, or because they lack the norm...
Article
A large body of nonexperimental literature finds residing in a disadvantaged neighborhood is deleterious for mental health, and recent evidence from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program—a social experiment giving families living in high-poverty neighborhoods the opportunity to move to low-poverty neighborhoods—suggests a causal effect of moving...
Article
Full-text available
The annual receipt of large tax refunds, primarily due to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), provides households with unusual opportunities to pay old bills and build assets. To examine these opportunities, the study surveys 194 black, Latino, and white parents who received EITC refunds of at least $1,000; in-depth interviews followed 6 months la...
Article
The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration provided an opportunity for low-income renters to move to low-poverty neighborhoods. Many of these renters, however, did not move with their vouchers, and many of those who moved did not stay in low-poverty neighborhoods. In this article, we explore the mechanisms behind these residenti...
Chapter
Using quantitative data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, as well as qualitative data from an in-depth study of low-income fathers in Philadelphia, this chapter describes the characteristics of young adults who transition to parenthood before 25 and the family contexts into which their children are born. Most births to young adul...
Article
Recent improvements in data collection offer unprecedented insight into the romantic partnerships of disadvantaged men, revealing higher levels of instability, complexity, and commitment than previously understood. Young disadvantaged men are often involved in casual romantic relationships that result in pregnancy. When this occurs, most men remain...
Article
Full-text available
Moving to Opportunity (MTO) offered public housing residents the opportunity to move to low-poverty neighborhoods. Several years later, boys in the experimental group fared no better on measures of risk behavior than their control group counterparts, whereas girls in the experimental group engaged in lower-risk behavior than control group girls. Th...
Article
Because of dramatic levels of economic volatility and massive changes in welfare policies, scholars in this decade worried anew about whether our official poverty measure, adopted in the 1960s, is adequate. Poverty's causes continued to be debated, with demographic factors often pitted against policy and maternal employment changes. Some scholars f...
Article
Full-text available
Fatherhood has traditionally been viewed as part of a "package deal" in which a father's relationship with his child is contingent on his relationship with the mother. We evaluate the accuracy of this hypothesis in light of the high rates of multiple-partner fertility among unmarried parents using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a r...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines mobility in the Gautreaux Two Housing Mobility Program, which attempted to alleviate poverty concentration by offering vouchers to residents of highly distressed Chicago public housing developments. In contrast to the original Gautreaux program, placement moves in Gautreaux Two have proven far less durable – most families quickl...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past several decades, nonmarital childbearing rates have risen sharply, especially among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Recent research suggests that disadvantaged Americans may defer or delay marriage in part because of perceived economic barriers. Yet, childbearing is also costly. Few studies have examined low-income parents' mo...
Article
Full-text available
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the black family was nearing "complete breakdown" due to high rates of out-of-wedlock childbearing. In subsequent decades, nonmarital childbearing rose dramatically for all racial groups and unwed fathers were often portrayed as being absent from their children's lives. The authors examine contemporary n...
Article
With the vast majority still romantically involved and about half cohabiting at their child's birth, most of these couples thus form a twoparent family of sorts despite being unmarried. Yet the precarious situation of these families, economically and relationally, led Ron Mincy (1994) to coin the term fragile families for what was clearly a growing...
Article
Our analysis here is based on fertility histories of seventy-six parents who were unmarried when our study began and remained in the study across the four waves (78 percent of the baseline sample of ninety-six unmarried parents). We look at the 202 pregnancies of these seventy-six parents that had occurred outside of marriage. We conduct both quali...
Article
As states try to figure out how to implement time-limited welfare without disadvantaging millions of poor single women and children, their focus increasingly turns to noncustodial fathers. Many federal lawmakers and private foundations seem convinced that fathers must be economically reconnected with their families for welfare reform to work. In 19...
Book
Today, a third of American children are born outside of marriage, up from one child in twenty in the 1950s, and rates are even higher among low-income Americans. Many herald this trend as one of the most troubling of our time. But the decline in marriage does not necessarily signal the demise of the two parent family-over 80 percent of unmarried co...
Article
Full-text available
The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment offered over 4,000 public housing residents in five U.S. cities the opportunity to move to very low poverty neighborhoods. Results from a survey conducted four to seven years after random assignment showed that boys in the experimental group fared no better or worse on measures of risk behavior than their...
Article
Moving the poor out of inner-city neighborhoods of concentrated poverty (where jobs are scarce), and into low-poverty suburban neighborhoods (where jobs may be more plentiful) has been suggested by Wilson's (1987) theory of social isolation and Kain's (1968) theory of spatial mismatch to lead to greater employment and earnings. Between 1994 and 199...
Article
Millie Acevedo bore her first child before the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to care for her newborn. Now 27, she is the unmarried mother of three and is raising her kids in one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Would she and her children be better off if she had waited to have them and had married their father first? Why do so ma...
Article
This study examines why low-income, unmarried parents who say that they plan to marry at the time their child is born do not follow through on their plans. We use data from a nationally representative birth cohort survey—the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N =3,710)—combined with data from an embedded qualitative study—Time, Love, Cash,...
Article
Have poor, unmarried mothers given up on marriage, as middle-class observers often conclude? To the contrary, most of the time they are simply waiting for the right partner and situation to make it work.
Article
Kathryn Edin and Joanna Reed review recent research on social and economic barriers to marriage among the poor and discuss the efficacy of efforts by federal and state policymakers to promote marriage among poor unmarried couples, especially those with children, in light of these findings. Social barriers include marital aspirations and expectation...
Article
In 2002, the Gautreaux Two housing mobility program provided low‐income families living in Chicago public housing with the opportunity to move to more affluent, less racially isolated communities. This article presents findings on their complex search and moving process. Only about one‐third of enrolled families actually moved through the program (...
Article
Full-text available
Four years into the implementation of the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation, promising to “change welfare as we know it,” a critical question remains unanswered: How are formerly welfare-reliant families faring as they make the transition to work? Drawing on longitudinal, ethnographic data collected under the auspices of Manpower Demonstratio...
Article
Welfare reform and related policy changes have altered the context in which welfare-reliant women make choices about employment and family care. Using data from longitudinal qualitative interviews, we examined women's experiences of work-family tradeoffs and how they think their employment affected their children. Women identified multiple co-occur...
Article
The 1996 welfare reform law called for profound changes in welfare policy, including a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance (known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF), stricter work requirements, and greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. The law's supporters hoped that it would spark...
Article
We examine the job aspirations of 80 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in Cleveland and Philadelphia by drawing on data from in-depth, qualitative interviews conducted in 1997–98, well after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was implemented but before time limits were reached. We show that t...
Article
Full-text available
A primary goal of the landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation is to increase marriage rates among unskilled women with children. Current theories of marriage under-predict the extent of non-marriage, have not been adequately tested, or do not apply well to women with low-socioeconomic status. Furthermore, scholarly work on marriage attitudes among...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we focus on how welfare-reliant mothers view work-family trade-offs in the age of welfare reform. We use data from in-depth, qualitative interviews with approximately 80 welfare-reliant mothers living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty in Philadelphia and Cleveland. These interviews were conducted under the auspices of Manpower...
Article
As welfare reform unfolds, nonprofit social service agencies will increasingly be called upon to help fill the gap between what unskilled and semiskilled mothers can earn in the low-wage labor market and what they need to meet their monthly expenses. This article draws on in-depth interviews with low-income single moth- ers and multiyear observatio...
Article
Past efforts to conceptualize the effects of welfare on work have failed to consider the full range of incentives and disincentives that low-skill single mothers perceive and act upon when making the choice between welfare and work. They also have neglected the fundamental economic reality of these mothers' lives - neither welfare nor low-wage work...
Article
In recent years, policy-makers have argued that one method of reducing welfare dependency is to toughen up child support enforcement. Yet every government effort to do so has yielded meager results. Furthermore, experts predict that even when fully implemented, Congress's most recent effort to fix this system, the Family Support Act of 1988, will d...
Article
In Chicago, 60 independent observers assessed how well Census Bureau enumerators implemented procedures for the homeless count Shelter and Street Night (S-Night) in one district office area (DOA). Within this DOA, they observed 29 of the 87 predesignated nighttime street enumeration sites. Observers saw enumerators in only 33% of these sites. Those...
Article
Much of the literature on the underclass alleges that welfare induces dependency. The author uses data from intensive interviews with 50 Chicago-area mothers on welfare to show that welfare pays too little to entice recipients into a life of passive dependence. The women interviewed all supplemented their AFDC and food stamp benefits with at least...
Article
Full-text available
Kathryn Edin, profesora de la Universidad de Harvard, visitó nuestro país invitada por la Universidad de Montevideo para dictar la conferencia Familia, educación y pobreza: descubrimientos recientes. En entrevista con la Revista, Edin habla sobre las familias frágiles, sus características y las políticas públicas al respecto.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Northwestern University, 1989. Includes bibliographical references (p. 275-282). Microfilm. s

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