Welfare Realities: From Rhetoric to Reform


The topic of welfare arouses a flood of emotional and often knee-jerk reactions - allegations of gross abuse and corruption, accounts of bureaucratic nightmares, pronouncements of moral outrage, and not a few ill-concealed racial stereotypes. In this book, two of the leading experts uncover the reality of welfare and point the way to practical and thoughtful new policies. The authors cover a very broad landscape, ranging from the nature of welfare administration to the duration and dynamics of welfare to explanations for welfare "dependency" to policy proposals, both modest and bold. They attempt what is nearly impossible: to examine welfare, its recipients, its providers, and the swirl of policy ideas with calm and clarity. Concentrating on the program called AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), they examine the demographics of the populations receiving assistance, the duration of that aid - who receives benefits for a long time and who only briefly, during important transitional periods - and the prospects facing AFDC recipients within the current administrative culture. The authors identify three models that have been used to explain "welfare dependency" and test them against an accumulating body of evidence. They offer suggestions for identifying potential long-term recipients so that resources can be targeted to encourage self-sufficiency. Finally, the authors present recommendations for changing the current welfare system. Welfare realities is must-reading for policy analysts and policymakers, and of great interest to everyone who wants to know: can the current system be reformed - or should it be replaced?

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Cambridge, MA
Publication year:
  • 1994


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