Abstract

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.

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