Athletic Participation and Welfare: Using Title IX to Measure the Effect of Sports on Adult Women’s Program Participation


Public assistance recipiency has been linked to peer networks, parental characteristics, intergenerational program participation, and neighborhood characteristics, but we do not know how adolescent athletic participation may impact public assistance use in the longer run. From a policy perspective, it is important to understand the factors leading to increased program participation, which may eliminate extreme poverty but may also increase the burden on federal and state government’s budgets. To understand the causal relationship between athletic participation and means-tested program participation, I use the variation in the implementation of Title IX and find that a 10 percentage-point increase in female athletic participation induced by Title IX increased program participation among 25 to 40-year-old females by 1.1 percentage-points. This effect persists across SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid recipiency. Event study analysis and a variety of placebo tests give credibility to a causal interpretation of the results. Finally, descriptive analyses suggest that Title IX-induced increases in single motherhood, marital status change, and employment are possible channels that athletic participation affects program participation.

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