The Association of Advanced Math Course-Taking by American Youth on Subsequent Receipt of Public Assistance


  • Kerry Adzima Pennsylvania State University at Erie



Income support, public assistance, advanced mathematics, work-first


Helping people move to independence is often cited as a primary goal of public assistance policies in the United States. Over the past several decades, welfare reform efforts in the US have promoted the idea of a work-first approach. Research shows that this approach has discouraged or at least made it harder for some students to attend college while meeting the work requirements for aid. How can those students who need public assistance increase their chances of finding a sustainable job and thus not need to rely on the public support system after high school? To address this question, this study used a sample of 3,384 student responses from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and a recursive bivariate probit model to analyze the association between advanced math course-taking in high school and the probability of subsequent receipt of public assistance. The empirical results suggest that taking advanced math courses in high school is associated with a lower probability of receiving public assistance for recent graduates. These findings are particularly important for school social workers who work in conjunction with teachers and school counselors to help at-risk students improve their chances of future financial independence.


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