Baby’s First Years: Mothers’ Voices

Awarded Scholars:
Sarah Halpern-Meekin, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Project Date:
Jun 2022
Award Amount:

Baby’s First Years (BFY) is the first randomized control trial of the effects of unconditional cash transfers on the development of young children. To understand whether and how increased income allows parents to invest in their children, it is important to understand how parents think about money. Similarly resourced parents, whose money comes from distinct sources (e.g., cash welfare versus wages), may deploy their resources differently. In this study, sociologist Sarah Halpern-Meekin and psychologist Katherine Magnuson aim to better understand parents’ choices. BFY: Mothers’ Voices, the qualitative study portion of BFY, is designed to open the black box about how money matters within families; it describes how mothers view the monthly payments, examines why they allocate it as they do, and how this financial support affects their financial context and parenting values. There are three key aims: first, the investigators aim to capture the understanding mothers have of the BFY dollars and how those understandings affect expenditure and consumption decisions. This includes whether and how the added resources affect spending on children, saving or debt reduction, and spending on other household members, including the focal child’s siblings. Second, they also aim to better understand mothers’ views and use of financial services and products. BFY provides participants with a debit card which may have implications for where and how the mothers manage financial transactions. Finally, the investigators have multiple waves of interviews before, during, and after the pandemic, and will trace mothers’ pandemic experiences, and the factors that shaped these experiences.


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