Anna Aizer, Shari Eli, Joseph Ferrie, Adriana Lleras-Muney, and a team of research assistants took a detailed look at kids who grew up in Mothers’ Pension households and drew some conclusions about the long-term benefits of modest cash transfers. The program is old enough that almost all the kids whose moms received money are dead now, allowing the researchers to conclude definitively that it increased life expectancy.
What’s more, World War II draft records show... sons of the accepted had early adult incomes that were 20 percent higher than those of rejected mothers; these sons were also 35 percent less likely to be underweight as adults, lived a year longer, and had about a third of a year of additional schooling. Since the rejected sons’ families were, on average, somewhat better off, these figures should somewhat understate the real impact of the pensions. The benefits weren’t gigantic—but the sums of money involved were pretty modest as well. Benefit levels varied from state to state, but averaged out to about $260 a month (adjusted for inflation), or around half of a modern-day TANF check."