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Abstract

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA, P. L. 104-93) called primarily on women to achieve two goals: work and/or marriage. For low income single mothers with limited access to capital, the PRWORA presents a quagmire in that the public safety nets previously guaranteed by the policies of the New Deal were abruptly supplanted by policies with obligations that require various forms of capital. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing dataset, we examine the impact of social capital on the chances of marriage and employment among single, unemployed mothers. We find that social capital increases a woman's chances of both marriage and stable employment, but the social capital must be expansive in order to challenge significant social disadvantage. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of social capital as a precursor to upward social mobility for low income mothers as opposed to simply getting 'off of welfare.'

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