NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Welfare Dependency

December 4, 1995

Evidence indicates the current welfare system promotes dependency:

  • The 4.7 million families currently receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) have already spent an average of six and one-half years on welfare.
  • The estimated total average length of stay on AFDC among families currently receiving benefits is 13 years.
  • Of the current recipients, more than 90 percent will spend over two years on AFDC and more than 75 percent will spend over five years.

Research indicates that such welfare dependency harms children:

  • Increasing the length of time a child spends on welfare may reduce the child's intelligence (IQ) by as much as 20 percent.
  • Receiving welfare as a child has a negative effect on the earnings and employment of young men, compared to children in households with identical income not from welfare.
  • Welfare and living in a single-parent family during childhood is strongly associated with criminal activity among young men and having illegitimate children among young women.

Source: Robert Rector, "Why Congress Must Reform Welfare," Heritage Backgrounder No. 1063, December 4, 1995, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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