WI22-06: Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in SSA and Means-Tested Benefit Receipt and Their Anti-Poverty Effects for Children in Multigenerational Families
Berger, Lawrence M.
Center for Financial Security
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A growing share of children reside in households with caregivers, often their grandparents, who are not their biological parents or in three-generation households that include one or both of their parents as well as one or more grandparents. Such arrangements are especially common among Black and Latinx households and among low-income households in which one or more members receives Old Age, Survivors, Disability Insurance, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Access to such benefits may have important implications for the well-being of children in these households, but little is known about the mix of benefits such families utilize or the ways in which Social Security Administration program use varies by race/ethnicity. Using administrative data from the state of Wisconsin from 2010-2019, this study describes the reported income sources among low-income households with children who have been involved in safety net programs. About two-thirds of grandparent households in these data receive some income from Social Security, as well as nearly half of three-generation households, twice the rate of the sample overall. Social Security programs reduce the poverty rate for grandparent households by nearly 18 points and 8 points for three-generation households. In these data, Black families with children are especially supported by Social Security programs, reducing the poverty rate for these households by over 7 points, nearly twice the reduction among similar white families with children. SSI is especially important in reducing poverty for children in these Black households. Low-income households with children rely on a range of support programs beyond wages, but Social Security programs are a critical source of income for many.
Berger, Lawrence M. Collins, Michael. Shager, Hilary. Costanzo, Molly. Drazen, Yonah. (2022) "Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in SSA and Means-Tested Benefit Receipt and Their Anti-Poverty Effects for Children in Multigenerational Families". Retirement & Disability Research Center, https://cfsrdrc.wisc.edu/project/wi22-06