Federal Financial Aid and Family Formation: Examining the Social Security Student Benefit Program

Lincoln H. Groves, Leonard M. Lopoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A broad empirical literature asks if social policies designed to provide benefits to low-income families also affect family formation patterns. While most of the evidence suggests that family formation effects are small at best, and often nonexistent, recent research argues that policies that alter budget constraints considerably should have greater family formation impacts. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the Social Security Student Benefit Program (SSSBP), a program designed to provide large higher education subsidies for the children of disabled, retired, or deceased parents. Conditions for receipt of SSSBP created strong incentives to delay marriage. Utilizing data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, and a difference-in-differences model, we found that women potentially qualifying for the SSSBP were much less likely to marry before age 22 and were older when they had children, while the program did not influence the probability of women ever marrying or having children. Impacts on men, however, were negligible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-444
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Family formation
  • Social Security Student Benefits Program
  • Tuition assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics


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