Presentation on theme: "Welfare Policy “Welfare is hated by those who administer it, mistrusted by those who pay for it and held in contempt by those who receive it.” —Peter C."— Presentation transcript:
Welfare Policy “Welfare is hated by those who administer it, mistrusted by those who pay for it and held in contempt by those who receive it.” —Peter C. Goldmark, Jr. POLS 21: The American Political System
The numbers and their importance How the government measures poverty Identify problems with the poverty measure Discuss a valid and reliable indicator of poverty
According to the federal government, how many Americans are poor? In 2010, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty— that’s 15.1% of the U.S. population.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY INCREASES IN U.S. (The New York Times). U.S. SAYS POVERTY RATE HAS RISEN. SURVEY FINDS A DROP IN HOUSEHOLD INCOME, THE FIRST IN A DECADE (The Boston Globe). RECESSION SWELLED BY 9/11 PLUNGES MANY INTO POVERTY (Buffalo News). POVERTY, BY THE NUMBERS: THE RISING NUMBER OF LOW-INCOME AMERICANS CALLS INTO QUESTION KEY GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES (Albany Times Union). The Importance of the Poverty Rate
Cost of the “economy food plan” for one year = $1,033 x 3 ----------- $3100
Poverty Thresholds, 2010 The amount of $22,113 represents the original threshold of $3,100, adjusted for inflation.
The Multiplier The 2010 threshold for a family consisting of two adults and two children was $22,113, or roughly $1,800 per month. One-third would be spent on food (e.g., about $150 per week), which leaves about $1,200 per month for rent, transportation, child care, clothing, etc. Rent Transportation Child care Clothing Etc.
Problems with the Poverty Measure The needs of all poor are not the same. The cost of living varies across the country. Income is measured before taxes. The measure considers only income. The current measure is not based on actual expenditure data.
“America’s worst statistical indicator” “…a dreadful numerical embarrassment.” A Poverty Line That's Out of Date and Out of Favor “The country’s poverty measure masks the true economic conditions that American workers and families face.”
Is there a “true” poverty rate? Liberals complain that the threshold are too low Conservatives say the thresholds are too high What should it measure?
Welfare and Public Opinion “Suppose the budgets of your state and local governments have to be curtailed, which of these parts would you limit most severely?” Aid to the needy 8% Public welfare programs 39% Food programs for low income families16% Food stamps 35% Why do Americans hate welfare? Welfare has become a code word for race, tapping into our latent prejudices. Welfare is thought to be a wasteful program that encourages laziness and fraud (e.g., “welfare queen”). The term itself carries a powerfully negative connotation.
Racial Composition of the Poor Surveys show that most Americans overestimate the proportion of the poor who are black. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, 1996. 48% 23%
Source: Martin Gilens, "Race and Poverty in America: Public Misperceptions and the American News Media," Public Opinion Quarterly, 60 (1996): 515-541. The actual proportion is 26.5%
The Racial Composition of Poverty Compared Source: Martin Gilens, "Race and Poverty in America: Public Misperceptions and the American News Media," Public Opinion Quarterly, 60 (1996): 515-541.
The New York Times Tatashia Holley, 25, with her daughters Kierre, 2, at right, 1- year-old Tierre in her arms, and her son, Pierre, 5, under a blanket, in the room they share at Ms. Holley's aunt's home in Pensacola, Fla. Ms. Holley dropped from the welfare rolls in 1996. Since losing her welfare benefits, Mary Miller has yet to find a job although she went to school and became a certified nurse's aide in Chicago. Tougher Welfare Limits Bring Surprising Results December 30, 1997
AFDC: A Flawed System? The system did not do enough to encourage work By rewarding unwed mothers and pregnant teens, the welfare system was responsible for the breakdown of the family The system fostered dependency
Reforming Welfare “It’s time to honor and reward people who work hard and play by the rules. That means ending welfare as we know it not by punishing the poor or preaching to them, but by empowering Americans to take care of their children and improve their lives. No one who works full-time and has children at home should be poor anymore. No one who can work should be able to stay on welfare forever.” —President Bill Clinton
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) Creates welfare-to-work incentives with time-limited cash assistance Restricts benefits Strengthens families by discouraging out-of-wedlock births Decentralizes control Replaces AFDC with TANF Has welfare reform been successful?
Has Welfare Reform Been Successful? We might judge the success or failure of the new law in either of two ways: By its effect on the poverty rate (e.g., the number of people who are classified as “poor”); OR By its effect on the number of welfare caseloads (e.g., the number of people receiving benefits);
Percentage of the U.S. Population on Welfare PRWORA went into effect in 1996 Are declining welfare caseloads a valid measure of policy success? Why or why not?