Blame Welfare, Ignore Poverty and Inequality

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With the passage of the 1996 welfare reform, not only welfare, but poverty and inequality have disappeared from the political discourse. The decline in the welfare rolls has been hailed as a success. This book challenges that assumption. It argues that while many single mothers left welfare, they have joined the working poor, and fail to make a decent living. The book examines the persistent demonization of poor single-mother families; the impact of the low-wage market on perpetuating poverty and inequality; and the role of the welfare bureaucracy in defining deserving and undeserving poor. It argues that the emphasis on family values - marriage promotion, sex education and abstinence - is misguided and diverts attention from the economic hardships low-income families face. The book proposes an alternative approach to reducing poverty and inequality that centers on a children's allowance as basic income support coupled with jobs and universal child care.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book challenges the conventional wisdom that welfare reform "worked." Handler and Hasenfeld, well-known experts in this field, contest that view, bringing to bear a wealth of data on poverty, inequality, and welfare policy. They conclude that welfare reform was built around "myths" regarding the individual deviance of the poor. Instead, they argue that structural conditions in society and the economy are the underlying sources of poverty and inequality and must be addressed with new policy solutions. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with these crucial issues."
--Evelyn Z. Brodkin, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago

"This is an enormously valuable work, bringing together historical perspective, extensive knowledge and a wide range of research findings in support of a forceful argument that our nation needs to move beyond debates about welfare reform and make a major commitment to addressing poverty and inequality."
--Mark Greenberg, Executive Director, Task Force on Poverty, Center for American Progress

"There is a broad consensus across most of the political spectrum that the 1996 welfare reform successfully ended welfare as we knew it...the welfare rolls were cut in half, more single mothers entered the labor force, and child poverty fell modestly. Handler and Hasenfeld challenge this conventional wisdom and emphasize instead that welfare reform is no substitute for antipoverty policies. They propose that government provide a basic income for families with children, reform the low-wage labor market, improve child care and expand community-based services so that we can end poverty as we still know it. Anyone interested in the future of social welfare policy should read this book."
--Sheldon Danziger, H. J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan

"There is much to be recommended in this book. It brings together an extensive body of research findings to make the case that the U.S. needs to move beyond current contentions over welfare reform and make a strong commitment to reducing poverty and inequality. The authors are especially good at exposing the myths about welfare programs and welfare recipients. They also provide an excellent exposition of the internal workings of welfare bureaucracies as well as the many reasons why welfare programs generate widespread public opposition but rarely achieve their intended goals. Assertions relevant to the issues under discussion are amply supported with references to studies and articles that represent the state of contemporary scholarship. And, anyone interested in the innerconnectedness of poverty issues and the major alternatives to our current social welfare policy should read this book."
--American Review of Politics

"highly valuable book....The table of acronyms thoughtfully provided at the beginning of this book is a definite help....the authors do an effective job of interweaving changes in policy with the changing demographics of poverty in the United States....provide a clear and useful explanation of the difference between entitlement programs....this material would be of value to students either of US welfare policy or of changes in social stratification....this volume presents a valuable supply."
--Kathleen C. Martin, Boston University, Journal of Social History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521870351
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel F. Handler has been a Professor of Law, specializing in social welfare law and policy, poverty, welfare bureaucracies, and comparative welfare states. He has published several books and articles, has won the American Political Science Association prize for the best book in U.S. National Policy (1997) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has lectured in Europe, Israel, South America, and Asia.

Yeheskel Hasenfeld is a Professor of Social Welfare. His research focuses on the dynamic relations between social welfare policies, the organizations that implement these policies and the people who use their services. He has written extensively on human service organizations, the implementation of welfare reform, and the non-profit sector. His book on Mobilizing for Peace won the 2003 Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize. He is a visiting scholar at several universities in Israel, Japan and Singapore.

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Read an Excerpt

Cambridge University Press
978-0-521-87035-1 - Blame welfare, ignore poverty and inequality - by Joel F. Handler and Yeheskel Hasenfeld

1  Introduction

In 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The president claimed, “We have ended welfare as we know it.” The centerpiece of the new legislation was Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), commonly referred to as “welfare,” the existing cash assistance program for single mothers and their children. Among other things, welfare would no longer be an entitlement: stiff, new work requirements were to be imposed on the mothers, and the work requirements were to be enforced by time limits – states must require recipients to work after a maximum of 24 month on aid or less, and there is a cumulative lifetime limit of five years on receipt of aid. Various “family values” provisions were specified, such as marriage promotion, child-support enforcement, and programs to combat teen pregnancy. State control was increased substantially. Before the 1996 reform, welfare rolls had been declining sharply, and this decline increased substantially in subsequent years. It seemed as if President Clinton’s statement was true. Welfare as we know it had finally been ended. Everyone claimed “victory.” “Welfare” has dropped out of the politicaldiscourse and is virtually forgotten. Unfortunately, discussion of poverty and inequality has nearly disappeared as well – even though significant poverty remains, especially child poverty, and inequality has been increasing over the past few decades.

   From colonial times, cash assistance for the able-bodied was always miserly, conditioned, and brief.1 Single mothers were helped but not much. Starting in the late nineteenth century, concern was raised about the well-being of the children in these families. Children were placed in foster homes and sent to farms in the Midwest. Then, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), commonly known as Mothers’ Pensions (and subsequently, AFDC), was established by the states during the early twentieth century. It became a federal grant-in-aid program under the New Deal but remained a relatively small, restricted program for white widows – “deserving” families. Mothers who were divorced, deserted, never married, or nonwhite were mostly excluded. The program was generally of low political visibility until the late 1950s and early 1960s when it grew rapidly and the characteristics of the families changed to include disproportionately unwed single mothers of color. This was the start of the welfare “crisis,” which continued until the 1996 reform. “By the 1990s, [welfare] was the most disliked public program in America.”2

   The thesis of this book is that the country has demonized poor, single mothers. “Welfare” has become the code word for the “welfare queen” – the inner-city, young African American mother who has children in order to stay on welfare and produces multiple generations of welfare recipients. These families are characterized by neglect, substance abuse, crime, and delinquency. Poverty is the fault of the individual – in this case, the single mothers – rather than the structural forces of society, and welfare has been construed as a major cause of lack of work effort, unwed motherhood, promiscuity, teenage child bearing, school failure, substance abuse, and other forms of deviant behavior.3 It is used to define ethnic and gender status. By stigmatizing the “other,” it validates the righteousness of the majority.

   In United States, the rhetoric of blaming the poor and discrediting income support policies represents what Albert Hirschman terms “the perversity thesis.”4 It argues that policies to alleviate poverty and improve the economic well-being of the poor actually have the opposite effect. These policies increase welfare dependency, erode the work ethic, and reinforce the social pathologies associated with poverty.5 Hirschman says that the perverse-effect doctrine is closely tied to the idea of self-regulating market, where any social policy that tries to change market outcomes, such as income assistance or the minimum wage, is assumed to be counterproductive.6 Using the perversity thesis to attack the legitimacy of income assistance has a long history. In the eighteenth century, the English Poor Laws, particularly the Speenhamland system (1795), which supplemented low wages, were attacked by Malthus as being the very cause of poverty. The same argument was made in Charles Murray’s attack on AFDC in his book Losing Ground (1988): “We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to remove the barriers to escape poverty and inadvertently built a trap.”7 Lawrence Mead (1986) in his influential book Beyond Entitlement has made a similar argument.8 Embracing the idea of the self-regulating market, the perversity thesis assumes that a social order free of government intervention optimizes the well-being of all through the choices and actions of individuals. Therefore, the perversity thesis reverses the causation of poverty by shifting the focus from poverty as a structural condition to poverty as a behavioral and moral deficiency.9 It thus provides the ideological justification to distinguish between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor.

   Demonizing welfare allows the country to ignore the economic and social conditions that produce poverty and inequality – class, race, gender, the economy, and the inadequacies of the low-wage labor market. From time to time, proposals are made to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality but they are quickly abandoned because they undermine American “values.” The War on Poverty, in the 1960s, fit this pattern. Although this was a liberal period, and poverty did become a national issue, poverty was defined in terms of individual behaviors rather than structural conditions. As part of the civil rights era, welfare was declared an “entitlement” with due process guarantees. Although this may have facilitated access to welfare, it did not by itself address the fundamental issues of income support and equal opportunities. Poverty and welfare continued to grow, and the War on Poverty was declared a failure.

   The 1970s ushered in three decades of reaction to what was considered to be the permissive welfare system, which culminated in 1996 with PRWORA. The major policy thrust throughout the three decades has been to transform welfare from a program considered to corrupt individuals and families into a program enforcing work requirements and “family values” – which, we point out, is the contemporary version of the age-old themes of deterrence and reformation. The current “work first” strategy assumes that there are sufficient jobs in the economy for current and potential welfare recipients, that any job is better than no job, that by taking a job and sticking with it the exrecipient will move up the economic ladder and escape poverty, and that there is sufficient child care support. It assumes that the problem with welfare recipients is their poor work ethic. By working instead of receiving welfare, the mother will be a proper role model for her children. The children will learn the values of responsibility, education, and family life. The children will not become welfare recipients. The other sure route out of poverty and into proper family life is marriage. In addition to marriage promotion programs, welfare mothers have to cooperate in establishing the paternity of their children, children born to mothers on welfare will not be supported, teenage mothers have to live with their parents, and sanctions are imposed for unsatisfactory school performance.

   This book will show that just about every one of these policies is based on myth.10 Although welfare recipients increasingly included more persons of color, the program was never “black.” African Americans were always in the minority. Although there were increasing proportions of teenage mothers, they were always a very small percentage of the recipient population. Although there were some large families, the average size of the welfare family is not that different from the nonwelfare family. Rather than long-term dependency, most families are on welfare a short time; the most common form of exit is through a job, but because of the instability of the low-wage labor market and a multitude of family and personal problems, welfare mothers are in and out of the paid labor force. Still, long-term dependency, including generational dependency, applies only to a small proportion of the caseload. School failure is a serious problem, but teen welfare mothers are no different from their peers. The failure of child support is not unique to fathers of children on welfare, although poverty and lack of stable earnings increase the problems of fathers of poor children.

   This is not to say that no cases fit the myth. However, this is the ceremony that validates the myth. The press and politicians dwell on the extreme examples. The public buys into the story because the message serves to validate its beliefs and attitudes: “They are playing by the rules.” Thus, welfare rhetoric and policy are less concerned with reforming the recipients than with reinforcing majoritarian feelings of moral superiority. This not only makes majoritarian society feel better but also allows the country to avoid confronting the difficult structural questions of inequality, poverty, and the suffering of children. It is more comfortable to blame the victim.

   Myth and ceremony allow politicians and the public to paper over the massive contradictions of welfare policy. Welfare policy purports to address poverty and inequality but refuses to deal with the structural causes of poverty and inequality or the reality of welfare recipients. Welfare policy requires recipients to enter the paid labor market and improve their well-being but most remain in poverty. Welfare supposedly supports and protects children but deterrence and reformation punish parents and, hence, the children. Work is required because, among other things, an employed parent provides a positive role model for the child, but the child suffers from inadequate child care. Welfare programs have huge numbers of guidelines and detailed rules, yet rely on the discretion of field-level caseworkers to interpret these rules and guidelines. They are applied in terms of the individual families’ circumstances, as long as the caseworkers conform to bureaucratic imperatives, not necessarily in accordance with the goals of the laws and policies. New programs, such as work requirements, are enacted by the legislature and thrust on local welfare offices without adequate resources and implementation. If programs become too harsh, and families break up, then local governments are forced to pay for expensive foster care, group homes, and other forms of child protection, often to the detriment of the children.

   Rather than resolve the contradictions, the typical legislative response is delegation or devolution to lower units of government – from the federal government to the states, from the states to the counties, and from the public to the private sector. We have a new faith that private enterprise can solve the problems of welfare administration. Instead of the cumbersome public bureaucracy, for-profit or not-for-profit agencies will handle welfare cases accurately and efficiently. These private agencies will deal with ground-level conflicts through low-visibility discretionary decisions. The goal is to assure the conflicts will remain at the local level. From time to time, however, conflicts boil over and reappear on the political agenda. The legislative level purports to resolve the problem through general provisions, but, in effect, re-delegates the issue. By concentrating on the “evils” of the welfare system and delegating low-visibility decisions to the state and local level, politicians, policy makers, and the general public can ignore the serious, corrosive problems of poverty and inequality.

   Since the 1990s (and before the 1996 welfare reform), welfare rolls have declined dramatically. Political leaders, the media, and the public have claimed victory. Since 1996, welfare has ceased to become a political issue. The contrast between this post-1996 lack of welfare discourse and the antiwelfare political rhetoric of the previous decades is startling. Now that these families are no longer on welfare and are in the paid labor force, the near-universal assumptions are that welfare and poverty are no longer an issue. The absence of welfare means the conquest of poverty, and all is well.

The Argument

This book takes a different approach. The issue is poverty and inequality, not welfare. “Poverty” is generally not discussed, but when it is considered (e.g., “X% are no longer in ‘poverty’”), it is grossly misleading because the poverty line is far too minimal. It is assumed that once a family exceeds the official poverty threshold, then everything is okay. We are constantly told about the percentage of families and children that are in “poverty” or are above “poverty.” We are still using the official federal poverty threshold. Although the threshold is adjusted for changes in the cost of living, its composition is deeply flawed. On the one hand, it fails to account for certain items that should be included – for example, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the value of Medicaid – but on the other hand, it fails to account for changes in family budgets. Two principal problems are the increasing percentage of income that families have to pay for housing and the inadequacy of health care. As is discussed, many families, with incomes substantially above the official poverty threshold, cannot afford minimum, adequate housing, and an illness or a job loss sends them into poverty.

   We point out that considerable material deprivation exists well above the poverty line (e.g., at least 200%). Budget studies of various cities show that purchasing only the necessities requires an income substantially higher than the official poverty line. In addition, “necessities” mean just that – no restaurant meals (including fast food), limited clothing, and minimal housing. Millions of people who are not officially “poor” are just above the poverty line. One medical bill, a disappearing job, one extra expense for necessities sends a family below the poverty line. Therefore, people who are near poor often have frequent spells of poverty. The poor and the near poor experience hunger, missed or late utility payments and shutoffs, and a lack of proper health care. When we describe these necessity budgets, it is obvious that none of the readers of this book would want to live this way.

   Poverty and near poverty are widespread and diverse. Poverty is not just a problem of the “other.” It affects different people (race, ethnicity, immigrant status) in different ways. Most of the people who are poor and near poor are working. They are “playing by the rules,” but because of the characteristics of the low-wage labor market, they cannot make it. Jobs pay little, usually lack benefits, and are uncertain. Hours often change, if not disappear, and wages usually remain low.

   The instability of the low-wage labor market plays havoc with child care. The adverse consequences to the millions of children living in poverty cannot be exaggerated. They are affected from before birth to adulthood by poor child care, poor health, poor education, poor nutrition, food insecurity, overcrowded housing, and unsafe neighborhoods. For example, one- and two-year-old children from professional families are exposed to approximately one hundred fifty thousand more words per week than children in families on welfare, and the inequalities for learning and development persist when these children enter school.11 Poor children are ill-prepared for adult life, and, as is discussed, most do not rise above their social class. Social consequences for the children are not only unjust but also contrary to our national interest. We are not producing an educated, trained, competent workforce.

   We are not “growing our way out of it.” Despite the booming economy of the 1990s, wages in the low-wage labor market have stagnated. There was a small drop in the official poverty line, but millions remain poor and near poor. The rising tide did not lift all boats.

   Although the U.S. welfare state – public, private, and not-for-profit – is extensive, most benefits go to the better off and do not reach the poor and near poor. With the exception of Medicaid and the EITC, the targeted programs are relatively small and do little to relieve poverty and near poverty. Rather than redistribution, the U.S. welfare state reinforces social stratification.12

   Instead of addressing poverty and inequality, we have demonized welfare, the program for poor single mothers and their families, and we continue our incredibly long history of blaming the victim. Now, with the sharp decline in the welfare rolls, we believe that we have solved the problem and that we can ignore the serious, widespread adverse effects of poverty. However, practically all other developed countries do a far better job than the United States in helping the poor.

The Plan of the Book

Chapter 2 discusses the state of poverty and inequality. We start with the measurement of poverty – how the official poverty threshold fails to capture the state of poverty – and the various dimensions of poverty. We then turn to the causes of poverty. We look at poverty over the past fifty years, concentrating on the changes in the economy and the labor market. Most adults rely on earned income. Most of the poor and near poor are in the low-wage labor market, and this chapter discusses the changing market and its increasing inequality and precariousness. The other big change affecting poverty is family composition, principally the rise of the female-headed household. These families are much more likely to be poor.

   We then turn to the state of poverty. Here, we show that contrary to common assumptions, many people experience poverty. Even if they rise above the official poverty line, very often they have spells of poverty. This is because the near poor are on the margins, and the bumps in life send them back into poverty. The risks of poverty are widespread; thus, many experience poverty over the course of their lives, even though particular spells of poverty may be short term. Because the risks are widespread, different subgroups experience poverty at least some time during the life course – non-Hispanic white men, women, African American men and women, immigrants, Hispanic men and women, Asian Pacific men and women, and, of course, the children. The chapter then turns to a profile of TANF recipients. This section counters a number of prevalent myths about TANF recipients. Although not a trivial number, TANF recipients are a small segment of the total number of poor and near poor. They are not primarily African American; they are primarily adults with small families, on welfare for short spells, and usually employed in the low-wage labor market. In short, TANF families are not a breed apart but are part of the working poor. The chapter ends with a discussion about those who have left welfare, or “welfare leavers.” Most are employed in low-wage jobs without benefits and with uncertain hours and duration. Most welfare leavers, although working, remain in poverty.

   Chapter 3 addresses the response to poverty and inequality. First, the U.S. welfare state is organized around the distinction between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. The former are those who have participated in the paid labor market, have paid into Social Security, and have reached retirement age. They are now excused from paid labor. This includes the widows and children of insured workers. Benefits are reasonably generous (at least by comparative standards) and free of conditions. Other deserving poor are disabled who cannot work. The undeserving are those who should be supporting themselves and their families through the paid labor market. Then, there are the ambiguous. Is the claimant really disabled or malingering? Did the claimant become unemployed through his or her own misconduct or was it truly involuntary? From its earliest inception, a fundamental purpose of the welfare state was to ensure that there were no disincentives to engage in paid labor. Those considered undeserving were stigmatized and paid meager benefits, if they received any benefits at all. The classic case is the working-age childless adult. Benefits for them, if available at all, are low and short term and have work requirements. With rare exceptions, the poor single mother was always considered undeserving. Why was she single? Moreover, if she is a widow, is she engaging in promiscuous behavior? Would supporting this woman encourage irresponsibility on the part of the father? Chapter 4 discusses the demonization of the single mother, which is a uniquely American characteristic.

   When considering the public welfare state – Social Security and Medicare as well as TANF and Medicaid – many people benefit from the public welfare state. However, the major public expenditures are universal and go to the nonpoor (e.g., Social Security and Medicare). A much smaller amount is targeted. Thus, the public welfare state has small antipoverty effects. Increasingly, governments are contracting out public welfare services for the poor to the for-profit and not-for-profit private sector.

   The private welfare state – primarily employment-related pensions and health care – is extensive and truly American exceptionalism (i.e., in contrast to western European countries, which have very small private welfare states).13 Here, two points are made. First, the private welfare state benefits primarily the better-off workers. Second, for the less well-off workers, the private welfare state is weakening. Both pensions and health care are riskier, less comprehensive, and more expensive. Thus, as the labor market changes, more workers and their families will be looking to the weakening public welfare state. Then, there is the “third” sector, which also is very extensive in the United States. Charities play an important role in trying to fill the gaps in the public welfare state. They provide food and shelter to the most destitute and also contract with public agencies to administer parts of welfare. Although a great deal of private charity dollars goes to help the poor, significant amounts go to the arts and medical research.

   Chapter 4 discusses how the United States demonizes the single-mother family instead of addressing poverty and inequality. Before the twentieth century, single mothers were considered undeserving poor. The model mother was a married woman who stayed home to care for her husband and children. The single mother was morally suspicious. This was especially true for “the others” – Catholics, Jews, and southern European families. A single mother was required to work in the paid labor market but condemned for doing so. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, welfare reformers realized that they were also harming innocent children. This created a dilemma: How to support the children when the mother was suspect? The “solution,” until post–World War II, was to give aid only to “worthy widows,” under Aid to Dependent Children, popularly known as Mothers’ Pensions. Mostly excluded were divorced, deserted, and never-married mothers and women of color.

   During and immediately after World War II, large numbers of African Americans migrated out of the South to northern and western cities. For many reasons, barriers to ADC were breached, and previously excluded single-mother families streamed into the system. This was the start of the welfare “crisis.” The rolls and costs skyrocketed, and most significantly, the program came to be identified as primarily African American. The stereotype was that of an unwed, sexually promiscuous mother having children to stay on welfare, fathers shirking their responsibility and living off the welfare checks, substance abuse, delinquency, and generational welfare. Shortly thereafter, the term “welfare queen” was coined, an explosive combination of race and gender discrimination.

   The welfare crisis continued until the reform of 1996, which “ended welfare as we know it.” The chapter concludes with a discussion of the provisions of PRWORA and TANF and the reasons for the rapid decline in the welfare rolls. Although the booming economy helped, an important part of the decline was state actions terminating welfare or denying entry into welfare. As the economy entered into a recession, the decline in the rolls stopped, and some states have had an increase in the rolls.

   Chapter 5 addresses a much-neglected issue – the day-to-day administration of welfare at the field level. The common response handling the “undeserving” is to delegate the controversies to the lower levels of government, such as the county departments of welfare and its field offices. It is here that the sorting out takes place – who gets help and under what conditions and who is turned away. For the most part, these are low-visibility discretionary decisions. There are volumes of rules and regulations, but the most important, crucial decisions are judgments made by the individual caseworkers. This chapter discusses how these decisions are made – bureaucratic ideologies and strategies, local staff ideologies, the working conditions, the pressures, the conflicts, and the incentives in these offices. Most important are the moral judgments that the workers make about the applicant or recipient. Is the person honest and really trying to do better, or is she just “gaming” the system?

   When the welfare rolls exploded, charges of waste, fraud, and abuse were made. The local offices were too lax in administering welfare; they are letting in too many cheats and unworthy applicants and not applying the accountability rules to those already on the rolls. Errors had to be reduced, and fraud had to be stopped. Control over the field-level offices was strengthened by tightening the eligibility and payment rules and strictly applying the rules. Field-level case workers were converted into technicians to make sure that eligibility rules were observed, that all the necessary forms were filed, that payments were accurate, and that other rules were complied with. The principal control mechanism was strict supervision over a deprofessionalized staff.

   The rolls continued to grow and the “crisis” continued. The next response was to offer social services to welfare families, but these were quickly replaced by a series of mandatory work programs. A problem arose. Helping recipients become employed requires a people-changing technology, involving more or less interpersonal relations between the worker and the client. It is a professional model that calls for an assessment of the skills and problems of individual clients. But the deprofessionalized eligibility workers did not have the skills, let alone the inclination, to engage in these activities. Accurate eligibility and payment administration remained the principal task. The work programs were viewed as unwelcome add-ons to an already overworked, underpaid, undertrained staff. The initial response was to deflect the recipients; a small number were referred to state employment services, but most were put on “administrative hold.”

   Under TANF, the ideology, the incentives, and perhaps most important, the available enforcement tools have changed. The goal is to move welfare recipients as quickly as possible into entry-level jobs. As noted, the heart of the TANF work requirements, as well as most of the state demonstration projects, is the “work-first” strategy. The work-first strategy is modeled after a program in Riverside, California. Under a charismatic leader, the staff was organized around finding entry-level jobs for welfare recipients and applicants. The staff engaged in job development throughout the area and offered backup services, such as child care, transportation, and social services. Despite great publicity, the results were mixed at best. At the end of the three-year demonstration program, half of the control group was not working and of those who were employed, most remained in poverty. Nevertheless, there was a positive cost-benefit ratio – welfare savings were larger than program costs. Riverside was hailed as great success and became the model for the TANF welfare-to-work programs.

© Cambridge University Press
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. The state of poverty: TANF recipients; 3. The response to poverty and inequality: the welfare state; 4. Demonizing the single-mother family: the path to welfare reform; 5. The welfare bureaucracy; 6. Work and the low-wage labor market: mothers and children; 7. Welfare reform and moral entrepreneurship: promoting marriage and responsible parenthood, and preventing teenage pregnancy; 8. Addressing poverty and inequality.
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