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April 1997, Vol. 120, No. 4
Harriet B. Presser and Amy G. Cox
In 1996, the President signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, initiating a major reform of the U.S. welfare system. Researchers and policy-makers, regardless of their political disposition, are unclear as to what the consequences of the new law will be for various demographic groupsthe working poor, single mothers, minorities, and others, be they currently on welfare or not. This article examines the work schedules of low educated employed mothers in the United States, with an eye toward pointing to a potential problem that needs to be considered when one assesses the feasibility of reform. Our analysis produces several interesting conclusions: (1) less educated mothers are more likely to work a nonstandard schedule than are other women; (2) the main reason they work such schedules relates to the occupations in which they work; and (3) these occupations will probably grow in the future. Given that formal day care, which these women often require in order to be gainfully employed, is less available at the nonstandard times they work, a direct implication of our findings is that, if low-educated women on welfare are to be encouraged to take jobs similar to those of other low-educated women, then their "off-hours" child care needs will have to be attended to.
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