WI22-Q3: “Implications of Child Incarceration for Racial Disparities in Women’s Wealth and Labor Force Attachment



More than one-in-five Americans aged 50 or older have ever had a child incarcerated at some point in their lives. Among American women of all ages, 21 percent of black women have ever experienced child incarceration compared to just 13 percent of white women. Qualitative work suggests that mothers often shoulder substantial in-kind and direct financial costs to support their currently or formerly incarcerated children. This project will use nationally representative data to test the possibility that adult children’s incarceration may detrimentally impact women’s (1) labor supply and (2) wealth in midlife. Given stark racial disparities in incarceration rates, we will also examine whether racial disparities in adult child incarceration contribute to racial disparities in these two outcomes, both of which are of crucial importance for determining one’s Social Security benefit level as well as one’s likelihood of requiring Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance in old age.


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