Effects of Universal and Unconditional Cash Transfers on Child Abuse and Neglect

We estimate the effects of cash transfers on a severe measure of child welfare: maltreatment. To do so, we leverage year-to-year household variation from a universal and unconditional cash transfer, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Using linked individual-level administrative data on PFD payments and child maltreatment referrals, we show that an additional $1,000 to families in the first few months of a child's life reduces the likelihood that a child is referred to Child Protective Services by age three by 2.0 percentage points, or 10 percent, on average. Estimates indicate that additional cash transfers also reduce child mortality.