The impact of temporary assistance for needy families, minimum wage, and Earned Income Tax Credit on Women's well-being and intimate partner violence victimization

Publication Year


Journal Article

Women experiencing poverty and women of color disproportionately experience intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. Economic policies targeting women at this intersection of poverty and IPV, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Minimum Wage (MW), and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), may be powerful violence prevention tools. Using data from waves 1 (1998–2000) through 4 (2007–2010) of the U.S.-based Fragile Families and Child Well-being (FFCW) birth cohort study, we apply a difference-in-difference (DD) study design to estimate both the overall and race-specific effects of state-level economic policies on non-physical IPV and several intermediate outcomes. In DD models analyzing the difference in violence outcomes by intervention group (i.e., TANF exposure based on women's educational attainment, ≤high school vs >high school) and by race (African American (AA) vs White) few state-level TANF policies were associated with IPV victimization and the MW had no differential effect, but the refundable EITC was protective against IPV. Of the few TANF policies associated with IPV – sanctions and the ratio of families receiving TANF for every 100 families in poverty (the TANF-to-Poverty Ratio (TPR)) - those linked with fewer TANF restrictions seemed to increase coercive victimization, especially among AA women. With regard to intermediate variables, we found no overall impact of economic policies on depression or economic hardship, while monetary benefits and the TPR, were associated with a decrease in employment. The effect of TANF policies by race on intermediate outcomes was complex and analyses suggest that while White women are more likely to be employed when TANF time limits are in place, they also experience larger increases in economic hardship events compared to AA women. Research into the effects of cash transfer conditionality on mediators, including economic instability, perceived stress, bargaining power, and coercive IPV to interfere with TANF compliance, is needed.

Social Science & Medicine