NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Don't Mess With Welfare Success

March 21, 2002

The welfare reforms adopted in 1996 have been a resounding success -- reversing decades of failure, during which the government encouraged many unwed mothers to avoid employment for the reward of a monthly welfare check, says NCPA policy chairman Pete du Pont.

The new law represented a historic accomplishment -- the first time in our nation's history a government entitlement was ended.

Consider what great changes that led to:

  • Where 5.5 percent of the population had been on Aid to Families with Dependent Children subsidies in 1994, welfare rolls had declined 53 percent by June 2001.
  • A report published by the National Center for Policy Analysis' Women in the Economy Project shows that the decline in welfare and increases in employment have been greatest for the most disadvantaged women -- high school dropouts, mothers of young children, never-wed mothers and ethnic minorities.
  • For instance, welfare reform accounts for 40 percent of the increase in work by single mothers who are high-school dropouts, 71 percent in the increase in work by 18- to 29-year-old single mothers, and 83 percent of the increase in work by black single mothers.
  • The reforms changed the culture of both recipients and caseworkers from an entitlement mentality to a "work first" philosophy.

The reforms have to be reauthorized by September 2002. That deadline has revitalized opponents of the reforms -- including politicians, academics and activists who have a vested interest in perpetuating dependence on government.

The question they are going to have to answer is, why should Congress mess with success? Simply repass the law as it is.

Source: Pete du Pont (National Center for Policy Analysis), "The Welfare Reformers' Success Story," Washington Times, March 21, 2002.

For NCPA's New Study "Gaining Ground: Women, Welfare Reform and Work"  


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