Welfare Reform

Should welfare benefits be used to change recipients' behavior?


Politicians across the country are pushing proposals that use welfare benefits to try to change the behavior of families receiving government assistance. Wisconsin's “Learnfare” program, for example, cuts a family's welfare benefits if children skip school too often. A new law in New Jersey will deny additional benefits to single women if they have more children while on welfare. Welfare advocates call such proposals punitive and question their effectiveness, but the public appears to approve of the idea. The debate over what is often called “the new paternalism” comes as welfare rolls are reaching record levels. As the political season heats up, candidates in both parties are promising further reforms of the welfare system, but the exact shape of those changes -- and their effects ...

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