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SPECIAL REPORT: Most FOOD STAMP & WELFARE Recipients Are WHITE AMERICANS!!
Terminology[ edit ] The term "welfare dependency" is itself controversial, often carrying derogatory connotations that the recipient is unwilling to work. Instead of focusing on how to tackle the root causes of poverty, people focus on attacking the supposed poor character of the recipient. To describe a person as welfare dependent can therefore be interpreted as " blaming the victim ," depending on context. Welfare, long-term reliance, and policy[ edit ] There is a great deal of overlap between discourses of welfare dependency and the stereotype of the welfare queen , in that long-term welfare recipients are often seen as draining public resources they have done nothing to earn, as well as stereotyped as doing nothing to improve their situation, choosing to draw benefits when there are alternatives available. This contributes to stigmatization of welfare recipients. While the stereotype of a long-term welfare recipient involves not wanting to work, in reality a large proportion of welfare recipients are engaged in some form of paid work but still cannot make ends meet. Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that in the wake of the Civil Rights Act , urban Black Americans would still suffer disadvantage and remain entrenched in poverty due to the decay of the family structure. From to , both the percentage of families headed by single-parent mothers and reliance on welfare payments increased. At the same time, research began indicating that the majority of people living below the poverty line experienced only short spells of poverty, casting doubt on the notion of an entrenched underclass. Ellwood used the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the duration of spells of poverty defined as continuous periods spent with income under the poverty line , looking specifically at entry and exit. They found that while three in five people who were just beginning a spell of poverty came out of it within three years, only one-quarter of people who had already been poor for three years were able to exit poverty within the next two. A small but significant group of recipients remained on welfare for much longer, forming the bulk of poverty at any one point in time and requiring the most in government resources. On the other hand, entry into poverty that was the result of a woman becoming head of household lasted on average for more than five years. Children born into poverty were particularly likely to remain poor. The federal government had been urging single-parent mothers with children to take on paid work in an effort to reduce welfare rolls since the introduction of the WIN Program in ,  but in the s this emphasis became central to welfare policy. Emphasis turned toward personal responsibility and the attainment of self-sufficiency through work. Conservative views of welfare dependency, coming from the perspective of classical economics , argued that individual behaviors and the policies that reward them lead to the entrenchment of poverty. Mead 's book Beyond Entitlement: The Social Obligations of Citizenship argued that American welfare was too permissive, giving out benefit payments without demanding anything from poor people in return, particularly not requiring the recipient to work. Mead viewed this as directly linked to the higher incidence of social problems among poor Americans, more as a cause than an effect of poverty: The recipients seldom have to work or otherwise function to earn whatever income, service, or benefit a program gives; meager though it may be, they receive it essentially as an entitlement. Their place in American society is defined by their need and weakness, not their competence. This lack of accountability is among the reasons why nonwork, crime, family breakup, and other problems are much commoner among recipients than Americans generally. His book Losing Ground was also highly influential in the welfare reforms of the s. Overall, four in five exits from poverty could be explained by an increase in earnings, according to their data. The idea of combining welfare reform with work programs in order to reduce long-term dependency received bipartisan support during the s, culminating in the signing of the Family Support Act in A lack of resources, particularly in relation to financing and case management, stymied JOBS. However, in , expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit EITC , first enacted in , offered working poor families with children an incentive to remain in work. Also in that year, federal legislation aimed at providing child care to families who would otherwise be dependent on welfare aided single-parent mothers in particular. Such measures were intended to decrease welfare dependence: The House Ways and Means Committee stated that the goal of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was to "reduce the length of welfare spells by attacking dependency while simultaneously preserving the function of welfare as a safety net for families experiencing temporary financial problems. TANF was administered by individual states, with funding coming from federal block grants. However, resources were not adjusted for inflation , caseload changes, or state spending changes. Even though working could make a woman eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the amount was not enough to make up for the rest of her withdrawn welfare benefits. Work also brought with it related costs, such as transportation and child care. Without fundamental changes in the skill profile of the average single-parent mother on welfare to address structural changes in the economy, or a significant increase in pay for low-skilled work, withdrawing welfare benefits and leaving women with only work income meant that many faced a decline in overall income. Sociologists Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein interviewed mothers on welfare in Chicago, Charleston, Boston, and San Antonio, and found that while working mothers generally had more income left over after paying rent and food than welfare mothers did, the former were still worse-off financially because of the costs associated with work. Degree of Dependence, which can be measured by the percentage of total income from means-tested benefits. Receipt of Means-Tested Assistance and Labor Force Attachment, or what percentage of recipients are in families with different degrees of labor force participation. Rates of Participation in Means-Tested Assistance Programs, or the percentage of people eligible for welfare benefits who are actually claiming them. Dependence Transitions, which breaks down recipients by demographic characteristics and the level of income that welfare benefits represented for them in previous years. Program Spell Duration, or for how long recipients draw the three means-tested benefits. Welfare Spell Duration with No Labor Force Attachment, which measures how long recipients with no one working in their family remain on welfare. In , the Department estimated that 3. In general, measures of welfare dependence are assessed alongside the statistics for poverty in general. If such benefits were excluded from calculations, the dependency rate would be lower. At the time of the Moynihan Report , approximately one-quarter of Black households were headed by women, compared to about one in ten White households. In , official statistics stated that The mechanisms through which this happens may include the child's lessened feelings of stigma related to being on welfare, lack of job opportunities because he or she did not observe a parent's participation in the labor market, and detailed knowledge of how the welfare system works imprinted from a young age. This trap can be eliminated through the addition of work subsidies. This is in large part due to fundamental inequalities in the quality of public education , which are themselves traceable to class disparities because school funding is heavily reliant on local property taxes. Meanwhile, low-skilled jobs have decreased within the city, moving out toward more economically advantageous suburban locations. Under the spatial mismatch hypothesis, reductions in urban welfare dependence, particularly among Blacks, would rely on giving potential workers access to suitable jobs in affluent suburbs. Without appropriate jobs, it can be argued using rational choice theory that welfare recipients would make the decision to do what is economically advantageous to them, which often means not taking low-paid work that would require expensive childcare and lengthy commutes. However, a large proportion of welfare recipients are also in some form of work, which casts doubt on this viewpoint. The persistence of racism[ edit ] One perspective argues that structural problems, particularly persistent racism , have concentrated disadvantage among urban Black residents and thus caused their need to rely on long-term welfare payments. Economic growth in the s and s did not alleviate poverty, largely because wages remained stagnant while the availability of low-skilled but decent-paying jobs disappeared from American urban centers. Poverty could be alleviated by better-targeted economic policies as well as concerted efforts to penalize racial discrimination. However, William Julius Wilson , in The Truly Disadvantaged, urges caution in initiating race-based programs as there is evidence they may not benefit the poorest Black people, which would include people who have been on welfare for long periods of time. Cultural[ edit ] Oscar Lewis introduced a theory of a culture of poverty in the late s, initially in the context of anthropological studies in Mexico. However, the idea gained currency and influenced the Moynihan Report. This perspective argues that poverty is perpetuated by a value system different from that of mainstream society, influenced by the material deprivation of one's surroundings and the experiences of family and friends. There are both liberal and conservative interpretations of the culture of poverty: Welfare's effect on poverty Reducing poverty and reducing dependence are not equivalent terms. Cutting the number of individuals receiving welfare payments does not mean that poverty itself has been proportionally reduced, because many people with incomes below the official poverty line may not be receiving the transfer payments they may have been entitled to in previous years. For example, in the early s there was a particularly large discrepancy between the official poverty rate and the number of AFDC recipients due to major government cuts in AFDC provision. While official welfare rolls were halved between and , many working poor families were still reliant on government aid in the form of unemployment insurance, Medicaid , and assistance with food and childcare. Whereas in the s and much of the s discussions of problems with welfare centered on dependency, the focus in more recent years has come to rest on working poverty. Poverty rates in the United States have risen since the implementation of welfare reform. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. The Department of Work and Pensions has released a report claiming that Disability Living Allowance , the main payment given to people who are severely disabled, "can act as a barrier to work" and causes some recipients to become dependent on it as a source of income rather than looking for a suitable job. The New Deal programs, targeted towards different groups of long-term unemployed people such as lone parents, young people, disabled people, and musicians, gave the government the ability to stop the benefit payments of people who did not accept reasonable offers of employment.
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