NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Welfare Reform is Working

December 4, 2003

Census figures show that between 1993 and 2001 poverty fell among mothers who have custody of their children. Credit for this transformation goes to welfare reform legislation, according to Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

When the reform legislation was passed, opponents predicted disaster. They ominously warned that the welfare reform bill that became law in 1996 was a betrayal to children, who would be tossed out on the street in alarming numbers without public assistance.

As we now know, the sky did not fall and is brighter than ever for many children who otherwise would have been doomed to the cycle of poverty, dependence and hunger, says IBD.

  • Census data released this week show that in 2001, roughly 25 percent of all mothers with custody, about 2.8 million, lived in poverty; that's a considerable improvement from the 37 percent, or 4.2 million, who lived in poverty in 1993.
  • In 1995, the year before welfare reform became law, the Agriculture Department classified 887,000 American children as being hungry; six years later, only 467,000 qualified, a decline of 47 percent.

This can't be characterized as anything but good news, says IBD. Welfare reform has forced fathers to support their children and gently pushed single mothers off the dole and into gainful employment. No one's been brutalized, and the only disgrace is due those who fought -- and still fight -- any idea that weans the able-bodied from public assistance and demands accountability.

Source: Editorial, "A Proper Incentive," Investor's Business Daily, December 4, 2003; Report, "Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2001," October 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, United States Department of Commerce.

For Census report


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