The New World of Welfare

Brookings Institution Press
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Congress must reauthorize the sweeping 1996 welfare reform legislation by October 1, 2002. A number of issues that were prominent in the 1995-96 battle over welfare reform are likely to resurface in the debate over reauthorization. Among those issues are the five-year time limit, provisions to reduce out-of-wedlock births, the adequacy of child care funding, problems with Medicaid and food stamp receipt by working families, and work requirements. Funding levels are also certain to be controversial. Fiscal conservatives will try to lower grant spending levels, while states will seek to maintain them and gain additional discretion in the use of funds. Finally, a movement to encourage states to promote marriage among low-income families is already taking shape.

The need for reauthorization presents an opportunity to assess what welfare reform has accomplished and what remains to be done. The New World of Welfare is an attempt to frame the policy debate for reauthorization, and to inform the policy discussion among the states and at the federal level, especially by drawing lessons from research on the effects of welfare reform. In the book, a diverse set of welfare experts—liberal and conservative, academic and nonacademic—engage in rigorous debate on topics ranging from work experience programs, to job availability, to child well-being, to family formation. In order to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of research on welfare reform, the contributors cover subjects including work and wages, effects of reform on family income and poverty, the politics of conservative welfare reform, sanctions and time limits, financial work incentives for low-wage earners, the use of medicaid and food stamps, welfare-to-work, child support, child care, and welfare reform and immigration.

Preparation of the volume was supported by funds from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

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About the author

Rebecca Blankis dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She was senior staff economist with the Council of Economic Advisers during the first Bush administration and was appointed to the council under President Clinton. Ron Haskins is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. A former adviser to the President for welfare policy, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, first as welfare counsel to the Republican staff, then as the subcommittee's staff director. He is the author of Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law(Brookings, 2006) and coeditor, with Rebecca Blank, of The New World of Welfare(Brookings, 2002).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 13, 2004
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Pages
514
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ISBN
9780815798378
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Work over Welfare tells the inside story of the legislation that ended "welfare as we know it." As a key staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee, author Ron Haskins was one of the architects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. In this landmark book, he vividly portrays the political battles that produced the most dramatic overhaul of the welfare system since its creation as part of the New Deal.

Haskins starts his story in the early 1990s, as a small group of Republicans lays the groundwork for welfare reform by developing innovative policies to encourage work and fight illegitimacy. These ideas, which included such controversial provisions as mandatory work requirements and time limits for welfare recipients, later became part of the Republicans' Contract with America and were ultimately passed into law. But their success was hardly foreordained. Haskins brings to life the often bitter House and Senate debates the Republican proposals provoked, as well as the backroom negotiations that kept welfare reform alive through two presidential vetoes. In the process, he illuminates both the personalities and the processes that were crucial to the ultimate passage of the 1996 bill. He also analyzes the changes it has wrought on the social and political landscape over the past decade.

In Work over Welfare, Haskins has provided the most authoritative account of welfare reform to date. Anyone with an interest in social welfare or politics in general will learn a great deal from this insightful and revealing book.

Over the last three decades, large-scale economic developments, such as technological change, the decline in unionization, and changing skill requirements, have exacted their biggest toll on low-wage workers. These workers often possess few marketable skills and few resources with which to support themselves during periods of economic transition. In Working and Poor, a distinguished group of economists and policy experts, headlined by editors Rebecca Blank, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, examine how economic and policy changes over the last twenty-five years have affected the well-being of low-wage workers and their families.

Working and Poor examines every facet of the economic well-being of less-skilled workers, from employment and earnings opportunities to consumption behavior and social assistance policies. Rebecca Blank and Heidi Schierholz document the different trends in work and wages among less-skilled women and men. Between 1979 and 2003, labor force participation rose rapidly for these women, along with more modest increases in wages, while among the men both employment and wages fell. David Card and John DiNardo review the evidence on how technological changes have affected less-skilled workers and conclude that the effect has been smaller than many observers claim. Philip Levine examines the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program during recessions. He finds that the program’s eligibility rules, which deny benefits to workers who have not met minimum earnings requirements, exclude the very people who require help most and should be adjusted to provide for those with the highest need. On the other hand, Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman show that government help remains a valuable source of support during economic downturns. They find that during the most recent recession in 2001, when state budgets were stretched thin, legislatures resisted political pressure to cut spending for the poor.

Working and Poor provides a valuable analysis of the role that public policy changes can play in improving the plight of the working poor. A comprehensive analysis of trends over the last twenty-five years, this book provides an invaluable reference for the public discussion of work and poverty in America.

A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy

This second volume of The Future of Children examines family formation and child well being, with a particular focus on marriage. The authors look at the history of marriage in America, the changes in family formation and the effect of these changes on economic and social outcomes for children, and the effect of marriage policy on specific subgroups such as low-income, minority, and homosexual families. The volume also provides a review of programs that have tried to increase and stabilize marriage as well as the impact of tax and transfer policies on marriage.

Contents

Introduction and Overview, Sara McLanahan, Ron Haskins, and Elisabeth Donahue

The Emergence of Marriage as a Public Issue, Steve Nock, University of Virginia

American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century, Andrew Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University

The Impact of Family Formation Change on Family Income, Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution, and Adam Thomas, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the next Generation, Paul Amato, Pennsylvania State University

Family Formation Choices of Low-Income and Minority Families, Kathryn Edin, University of Pennsylvania and Joanna Reed, Northwestern University

Marriage Initiatives: What Might Work?, Robin Dion, Mathematica Policy Research

Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America's Children, Jonathan Rauch, National Journal and the Brookings Institution, and William Meezan, University of Michigan

Tax and Transfer Policy", C. Eugene Steuerle, Urban Institute

The nature of work in the United States is changing dramatically, as new technologies, a global economy, and more demanding investors combine to create a far more competitive marketplace. Corporate efforts to respond to these new challenges have yielded mixed results. Headlines about instant millionaires and innovative e-businesses mingle with coverage of increasing job insecurity and record wage gaps between upper management and hourly workers. A Working Nation tracks the profound implications the changing workplace has had for all workers and shows who the real economic winners and losers have been in the past twenty-five years.

A Working Nation sorts fact from fiction about the new relationship between workers and firms, and addresses several critical issues: Who are the real winners and losers in this new economy? Has the relationship between workers and firms really been transformed? How have employees become more integrated into or disconnected from corporate strategies and performance? Should government step into this new economic reality and how should it intervene?

Among the topics investigated, David T. Ellwood explores and explains the apparent paradox between the steady rise in per capita national income and the stagnant wages of middle- and working-class workers. Douglas Kruse and Joseph Blasi study relative changes in long-term vs. temporary work, and evaluate the introduction of profit-sharing schemes and high performance workplace programs. William A. Niskanen and Rebecca M. Blank, both former members of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, offer their perspectives on what direction government might take to make this a working nation for everyone. Though Niskanen and Blank take alternative approaches, they both conclude that the primary policy emphasis ought to be on the problems of the least skilled more than on inequality per se, and that a focus on childhood education and tax supports for low-income working families should be of primary concern.

A Working Nation paints a compelling and surprisingly consistent picture of today's workplace. While the booming economy has created millions of new jobs, it has also lead to an alarmingly unbalanced system of rewards that puts less-skilled, and many middle-class, workers at risk. This book is essential reading for those seeking the most efficient answers to the challenges and opportunities of the evolving economy.

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