Haskins proposed a small list of child outcomes about which policy makers would be most concerned: whether children stay in school, whether they get a job, and whether they avoid arrest.
Social science research needs to focus more on marriage, as distinct from nonmarital fertility, in Lichter's view. Current AFDC rules probably lower the probability that a cohabiting couple will decide to marry, and they lower the probability of remarriage for divorced women. There is a large research literature on "assortative mating," and it would be useful to know, for example, how AFDC affects the probability that a woman can "marry up" in the ranking, whether the income from AFDC allows women to be choosier about potential mates, just as unemployment insurance allows those out of work to be choosier about potential jobs. Researchers have relatively little to offer policy makers who want to know how policies of all sorts (not just AFDC/TANF) may promote marriage, rather than just discourage female headship. To this Bumpass added a concern about understanding cohabitation. One-third of nonmarital births are to cohabiting couples, yet little is known about their childrearing practices or the effect of the stability of the relationship on the children of either partner or their common children.
Welfare reform at the federal level is likely to increase, not to end, the need for policy-relevant research findings on the effects of income transfers on demographic behavior and families. At the same time, however, the character and pace of reform are likely to make it more difficult to produce useful and timely research, unless efforts are made to improve the availability of data.
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