983 April 8, 1994 Revised and Updated March 17, 1995 COMBATTING FAMILY DISINTEGRAT ION CRIME, AND DEPENDENCE WELFARE REFORM AND BEYOND INTRODUCTION As the national debate on welfare reform heats up, policy makers should recognize one overriding fact: the War on Poverty has failed. It has been thirty years since Presi dent Lyndon Johnson launched his unconditional war. But in most respects, the prob lems of the poor, the underclass, and the inner city have actually gotten worse, not better in the subsequent years.
This failure is not due to a lack of government spending. In 1993, federal, state, and lo cal governments spent $324 billion on means-tested welfare programs for low-income Americans. Welfare now absorbs 5 percent of the gross domestic product, up from 1.5 percent in 1965 when the War on Poverty began. Though Johnson declared th a t the days of the dole are numbered, welfare now involves an ever expanding share of the popula tion. Today nearly one out of seven American children is enrolled in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC with Uncle Sams welfare check serving as a s urrogate fa ther. About half of the children currently on AFDC will remain on welfare for over ten years.
Swollen AFDC rolls are in turn a response to rising illegitimacy; two out of three black children in the U.S. are now born out of wedlock, up from aro und 25 percent when the War on Poverty began. Rapid increases in illegitimacy are also occurring among low 2 1 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, I993 Green Book: Background Material and Data on Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means (Washington, D.C U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993 p. 688 2 Ibid p. 714. whites; the illegitimate birth rate among white high school drop outs is 48 percent.
Overall, more than 30 percent of Ameri can children are now born to sin gle mothers.
The core feature of the U.S welfare sys tem, and its central prob lem, is that it subsidizes and thus Welfare Spending by Type: 1929-1 993 Billions of I993 Dollars Education Training Services Urban Aid 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 93 Source: Hentage calculations based on U.S. government data 3 Transcript of Presidential Remarks, Office of the Press Secretary,The White House, Remarks by the President to the 86th Annual Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ Memphis, Tennessee, November 13,1993.
National Broadcasting Company, Inc NBC Nightly News, December 3, 1993, Presidential interview with Tom Brokaw.
Robert Rector, President Clintons Commitment to Welfare Reform: The Distur bing Record So Far, Heritage 4 5 2 But the current welfare system is profoundly damaging to American society. A dra matic overhaul, reversing the trends of the last 25 years, is required. In overhauling this failed system, Members of Congress should be gu i ded by the following principles 0 Reciprocity. Real reform would convert welfare from a one-way handout into a sys tem of mutual responsibility in which welfare recipients would be given aid but would be expected to contribute something back to society fo r assistance given 8 Behavioral Change. A reformed system must strongly discourage dependency and irresponsible behavior and encourage constructive behavior 8 Fiscal Responsibility. It must firmly control soaring welfare costs which are slowly bankrupting the nation.
Legitimacy. Finally, and most important, welfare reform must seek to reduce the ille gitimate birth rate in the U.S. and promote the formation of stable two-parent fami lies. Any reform that does not dramatically reduce the illegitimate birth rate will no t save money and will fail to truly help Americas children and society COST OF THE WELFARE STATE The U.S. welfare system may be defined as the total set of government programs ex plicitly designed to assist poor and low-income Americans. The federal govern ment cur rently runs over 75 interrelated and overlapping welfare programs. Many states operate independent state programs in addition to the federal programs.
In 1993, total welfare spending by federal, state, and local governments reached a re cord high of $324 billion. Of that total 234.3 billion, or 72 percent came from federal funding and $90 billion, or 28 percent, came fromstate or local funds. But these figures significantly understate the role of the federal government in welfare. Many federal wel fare programs require a state government contribution. In order for individuals within a state to receive aid from these federal programs, the state government must match a cer tain share of federal spending in the state on that program. Out of the total o f $90 billion in state and local welfare spending fully $78.6 billion represents state and local contribu tions to federally created welfare programs. Of total welfare spending of $324 billion only $1 1.4 billion, or 3.5 percent, is spending for independe nt state welfare program Thus roughly 96 percent of welfare spending represents federal spending or state contri butions to federal programs 6 Foundation Buckgrounder No. 967, December 17,1993.
A list of means-tested welfare programs as well as spending figures for each program is available from the author.
Comprehensive figures on independent state and local welfare spending are difficult to obtain. It is possible that there is as much as $10 billion to $15 billion in independent state and local welfare s pending which is not included in these totals. However, even if this extra state and local spending were included in the spending totals, the welfare system would still be overwhelmingly federal in structure 6 7 3 The wel- 11 II Source: Heritage calculati o ns based on US. government data. cia1 service fare system includes cash aid programs food pro grams medical aid programs, housing aid programs, energy aid programs jobs and training pro grams, tar- geted and means I The Welfare System in 1993, by Type of A ssistance Billions of Dollan Food Aid Housing Aid $36 Cash Aid Social Services Training and Jobs Programs Medical Aid I I tested edu cation pro Energy Aid 8 17.3 1.6 I1 1 I programs and urban and community development programs. Total welfare spending in 1 9 93 was al located as follows Cash Aid. The federal government operates eight major means-tested cash assistance pro grams. Many state governments also operate independent cash programs termed General Assistance or General Relief. Total cash welfare spendi ng by federal and state governments reached $71.5 billion in FY 1993.
Food Aid. The federal government operates eleven major programs providing food assis tance to low-income persons. Total food aid to low-income persons equalled $36 bil lion in FY 1993.
Housing Aid. The federal government runs fourteen major housing programs for low-in come persons. Many state governments also operate independent state public hous ing programs. Total housing aid for low-income persons equalled $23.8 billion in FY 1993.
Medical Aid. The federal government runs seven medical programs for low-income per sons. Many states operate independent medical General Assistance programs. Total medical iiid equalled $155.8 billion in FY 1993.
Energy Aid. The federal government operates two programs to help pay the energy bills or to insulate the homes of persons with low incomes. Total spending equalled $1.6 billion in FY 1993.
Education Aid. The federal government runs ten programs providing educational assis tance to low-income persons, disadvantaged minorities, or low-income communities.
Total spending equalled $17.3 billion in FY 1993 4 Training and Jobs Programs. The federal government currently operates nine different jobs and training programs for low-income persons, costing $5. 3 billion in FY 1993 Targeted and Means-Tested Social Services. The federal government also runs eleven programs providing special social services to low-income persons. These programs cost $8.4 billion in FY 1993.
Urban and Community Aid Programs. The fe deral government runs five programs to aid economically distressed communities. These programs cost $4.8 billion in FY 1993 The Growth of the Welfare State The welfare state, after remaining at low levels through the 1950s and early 1960s, has undergone e x plosive growth since the onset of the War on Poverty. In inflation-adjusted terms, welfare spending has grown in every year except two since the mid-1960s. In con stant dollars, federal, state, and local governments now spend nine times as much on wel far e as in 1965, when the War on Poverty was beginning. Welfare spending per capita, in constant dollars, is six times as high as in 1965.
Liberals claim repeatedly that Ronald Reagan slashed welfare spending. In reality welfare spending grew during the 1980s , after adjusting for inflation. In 1993, per capita welfare spending in constant dollars was 43 percent higher than when President Reagan took office in 19
80. And welfare spending in FY 1992 and FY 1993 exceeded defense spending for the first time since the 1930s.
The total financial cost of the War on Poverty has been enormous. From the start of the War on Poverty in 1965 to the present, welfare spending has cost the taxpayers $5.4 tril lion in constant 1993 dollars. This is greater than the cost of defeating Germ any and Ja pan in World War 11, after adjusting for inflation.
The notion that the U.S. would spend $5.4 trillion on the War on Poverty would have dumbfounded most members of Lyndon Johnsons White House. In launching the War on Poverty, President Johnson d id not promise an open-ended expansion of the welfare state. Instead, he spoke of a temporary investment that would help the poor to become self-sufficient and climb into mainstream society. But the growth of the welfare state has been unending and relent l ess. Moreover, there is not even the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for the end of the War on Poverty. According to the Congres sional Budget Office figures, total annual welfare spending will rise to nearly $500 bil lion and 6 percent of GDP by 1998 8 8 9 Welfare spending per capita measures total welfare spending divided by the full U.S. population.
Contrary to some claims, the growth in welfare spending has not been limited to medical aid. In constant dollars per capita cash, food, a nd housing aid is now 26 percent higher than in 1980 and four times higher than in 1965 5 HOW WELFARE HAS HARMED THE POOR 10 11 12 13 14 15 However, the publics antjpathy to the current welfare system is not rooted merely in its very high costs. More impo r tant, the public perceives that welfare has harmed both the poor it was intended to help as well as society at large. In order to unravel the effects of welfare on American society, policy makers must begin with an understanding of two separate concepts o f poverty: material poverty and behavioral poverty.
Material poverty means, in the simplest sense, having a family income below the offi cial poverty income threshold, which was $14,763 for a family of four in 1993.To the av erage man on the street, to say someone is poor implies that he is malnourished, poorly clothed, and lives in filthy, dilapidated, and overcrowded housing. In reality there is little material poverty in the U.S. in the sense generally understood by the public.
In 1990, after adjusting for inflation, the per capita expenditures of the lowest income one-fifth of the U.S. opulation exceeded the per capita income of the median American household in 19
60. There is little or no poverty-induced malnutrition in the U.S. Per sons defined by th e U.S. government as poor have almost the same average level of consumption of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients as persons in the upper middle class. l2 Children living in poverty today, far from being malnourished, actually grow up to be one inch t a ller and ten pounds heavier than the average child of the same age in the general population in the late 1950s. l3 The principal nutrition-related problem facing poor persons in the U.S. today is obesity, not hunger; the poor have a higher rate of obesity than do members of other socioeconomic groups in the U.S crowded than is the average citizen in Western Europe.14 Nearly all of the American poor live in decent housing that is reasonably well-maintained. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the households defin ed as poor by the U.S. government actually own their own homes.
Behavioral poverty, by contrast, refers to a breakdown in the values and conduct which lead to the formation of healthy families, stable personalities, and self-sufficiency.
Behavioral povert y incorporates a cluster of severe social pathologies including: eroded IP Similarly, poor Americans have more housing space and are less likely to be over 15 Robert Rector, How the Poor Really Live: Lessons for Welfare Reform, Heritage Foundation Buckgro under No 875, January 3 1, 19
92. See also Robert Rector, Facts About Americas Poor, Heritage Foundation F. KI. No. 6 December 23, 1993.
Robert Rector, Kate Walsh OBeirne, and Michael McLaughlin, How Poor Are Americas Poor? Heritage Foundation Buckgrounder No. 79 1, September 2 1, 1990. p. 2.
Robert Rector, Food Fight: How Hungry Are Americas Children? Policy Review, Fall 1991, pp. 38-
43. Robert Rector, Hunger and Malnutrition Among American Children, Heritage Foundation Buckgrounder No. 843 August 2,1991.
Bernard D. Karpinos, Height and Weight of Military Youths (Medical Statistics Division, Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, 1960 pp. 336-35
1. Information on the cuknt height and weight of youths provided by the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Rector, How the Poor Really Live,op. cif pp. 12-13.
Ibid 6 work ethic and dependency, lack of educational aspiration and achievement, inability or unwillingness to control ones children, increased single parenthood and illegitimacy criminal activity, and drug and alcohol abuse. While material poverty may be rare in the United States, behavioral poverty is abundant and growing at an alarming pace.
The core dilemma of the welfare state is that the prolific spending intended to alleviate material poverty has led to a dramatic increase in behavioral poverty. In welfare, as in other government policies, you get what you pay for. The current welfare system heavily subsidizes illegitimacy, divorce, and non-work. The past 25 years have seen dramatic in creases in all three behaviors. The War o n Poverty may have raised the material standard of living of a few Americans, but at the cost of creating whole communities where tradi tional two-parent families have vanished, work is rare or non-existent, and multiple gen erations have grown up depende nt on government transfers. The disintegration of the family encouraged by the current welfare system has in turn led to other severe social problems, in particular, a dramatic increase in crime.
The anti-marriage and anti-labor effects of welfare are simp le and profound. The cur rent welfare system may best be conceptualized as a system that offers each single mother with two children a paycheck of combined benefits worth an average of be tween $8,500 and $15,000, depending on the state.16 The mother has a contract with the government: She will continue to receive her paycheck as long as she fulfills two con ditions 0 She must not work; and 8 She must not marry an employed male.
Thus the current welfare system provides heavy incentives for individuals to w ork less or leave the labor force entirely and rely on the taxpayers for support. Even worse, wel fare has made marriage economically irrational for most low-income parents; it has con verted the low-income working husband from a necessary breadwinner int o a net finan cial handicap.18 It has transformed marriage from a legal institution designed to protect and nurture children into an institution that financially penalizes nearly all low-income parents who enter into it 16 This sum equals the value of welf a re benefits from different programs for the average mother on AFDC 17 Technically the mother may be married to a husband who works part-time at very low wages and still be eligible for some aid under the AFDC-UP program. However, if the husband works a si g nificant number of hours per month even at a low hourly rate, his earnings will be sufficient to eliminate the familys eligibility to AFDC and most other welfare 18 One simplistic solution to the dilemmas presented above would be to allow a welfare mother to retain all or most of her welfare benefits after she has taken a job or married a fully employed male. But this approach would be unfair to working single mothers and low-income, working married couples, who never went on welfare in the first place.
Mo reover, most low- and moderate-income parents would have a huge incentive to enroll in welfare, at least briefly, to become eligible for the long-term continuing benefits. Such a system would inevitably devolve into one in which the majority of low- and m o derate-income single-and two-parent families received substantial welfare payments, raising the overall cost of welfareby hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Realistic welfare reformers must seek to alter welfare incentives in a more practical manne r 7 Welfare also engenders long-term inter-generational dependence. Of the over 4.5 mil lion families currently receiving assistance through Aid to Families with Dependent Chil dren (AFDC well over half will remain dependent for over ten years, many for fi f teen years or longer. l9 Moreover, dependence passes between generations; children raised in families that receive welfare assistance are themselves three times more likely to be on welfare than other children when they become adults2 This inter-generatio n al depend ency is a clear indication that the welfare system is failing in its goal to lift the poor from poverty to self-sufficiency and is trapping many families in a repeating cycle of debilitat ing and self-destructive behavior Welfares Effect on Work The growth of the welfare state has coincided with a decline in labor force attachment.
In 1960, among the lowest income quintile of population, nearly two-thirds of house holds were headed by persons who worked.21 By 1991 this figure had fallen to around one-third, and only 11 percent had household heads who worked full time throughout the year?2 Part of this decline in employment can be attributed to the increasing number of retired elderly households in this income group, but an equally important facto r is the de cline in labor force participation among non-elderly heads of households.
For a growing number of poor Americans, the existence of generous welfare programs makes not working a reasonable alternative to long-term employment. During the late 196 0s and early 1970s, social scientists at the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO conducted a series of controlled experiments to examine the effect of welfare benefits on work.effort. The longest running and most comprehensive of these experiments was con ducted between 1971 and 1978 in Seattle and Denver, and became know as the Seat tlemenver Income Maintenance Experiment, or SIME/DIME.23 Advocates of expanding welfare had hoped that SIME/DIME, and similar experiments conducted in other cities, would prov e that generous welfare benefits did not adversely affect work effort. Instead, the SIME/DIME experiment found that every $1 .OO of ex tra welfare given to low-income persons reduced labor and earnings by $0.80.24 The sig nificant anti-work effects of welf a re benefits were shown in all social groups including married women, single mothers, and husbands. The effects were particularly pronounced among young unmarried males; among this group the number of hours worked per week declined 43 percent for those who remained unmarried throughout the experiment and 33 19 20 21 22 23 24 Committee on Ways and Means, op. cit., p. 714.
M. Anne Hill and June ONeill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States: Measurement and Analysis of Determinants (New York City, City University of New York, Baruch College, March 1990).
US. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No 80, Income in 1970 of Families and Persons in the United States, p. 26.
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 180, Money Income of Households Families and Persons in the United States: 1991, p. 7.
SRI International, Final Report of the Seattle-Denver Income Maintenance Experiment, Vol. I, Design and Results Washington, D.C.: SRI, May, 1983).
Gregory B. Christiansen and Walter E. Williams, Welfare Family Cohesiveness and Out of Wedlock Births, in Joseph Peden and Fred Glahe, The American Family and the State (San Francisco: Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research, 1986). p. 398 8 percent for those who mar1ied.2~ The results of the SIME/DIME study are directly appli cable to existing welfare programs: Nearly all have strong anti-work effects like those studied in the SIMEDIME experiment.
Recent research by Dr. June ONeill of Baruch College in New York City has con firmed that higher welfare benefits increase the number of individuals who leave the la bor force and enroll in welfare. A 50 percent increase in monthly AFDC and Food Stamp benefit levels was found to lead to a 75 percent increas e both in the number of women en rolling in AFDC and in the number of years spent on AFDC.261n other words, increases in benefits value causes a dramatic expansion in welfare caseloads.
An extremely important research discovery by Dr. ONeill is that high A FDC benefits reduce the employment of young adult men in a community even though few, if any, of these men are direct beneficiaries of AFDC payments. High AFDC benefits were found to reduce the employment of young adult men in a community by some 50 perce n t. The high AFDC benefit levels apparently affect the work behavior of young men in two ways. First, high benefits reduce the probability of marriage and thereby reduce the ne cessity for a young man to work to support a family. Second, it is likely that m any young single men who are boyfriends to single mothers on AFDC indirectly share in the mothers welfare benefits; higher benefits thereby reduce the males need for work.27 Effects of Welfare on Family Structure The onset of the War on Poverty directly c o incided with the disintegration of the low income family-the black family in particular. At the outset of World War 11, the black illegitimate birth rate was slightly less than 19 percent. Between 1955 and 1965 it rose slowly, from 22 percent in 1955 to 2 8 percent in 19
65. Beginning in the late 1960s, how ever, the relatively slow growth in black illegitimate births skyrocketed-reaching 49 percent in 1975 and 68 percent in 19
91. If current trends continue, the black illegitimate birth rate will reach 75 percent in ten years2 Rapid increases in illegitimacy are also oc curring among low-income whites; the illegitimate birth rate among white high school dropouts is 48 percent. Overall, 30 percent of American children are now born to single mo thers Across the nation, the current welfare system has all but destroyed family structure in low-income communities. Welfare establishes strong financial disincentives which effec- tively block the formation of intact, two-parent families. Example: Suppose a young ma n has fathered a child out of wedlock with his girlfriend. If this young father abandons his responsibilities to the mother and child, government will step in and support the mother 25 Charles Murray, Losing Ground: American Social Policy form 1950 to 1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1984 p. 151 26 M. Anne Hill and June ONeill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States: Measurement and Analysis of Determinants (New York City: City University of New York. Baruch College, August 1993 research funded by Grant No. 8 8ASPE201A. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 27 Ibid 28 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nati,onal Center for Health Statistics. Note: The black illegitimate birth rate is available only from 1969 on.The pre-1969 black illegitimate birth rates were calculated using the very similar non-white rate 9 andzhild with welfaie. If the mother has a second child out of wedlock, as is common average combined benefits will reach around $13,000 per year marries the mother and takes a job to sup p ort the family), government policy takes the opposite course. Welfare benefits would be almost completely eliminated. If the young father makes more than $7.50 per hour, the federal government actually begins taking away his income through taxes. The fede r al welfare reform act of 1988 permits the young father to marry the mother and join the family to receive welfare, but only as long as he does not work. Once he takes a full-time job to support his family, the welfare bene fits are quickly eliminated and the fathers earnings are subject to taxation.
Largely because of welfare, illegitimacy and single parenthood have now become the conventional lifestyle option for raising children in many low-income communities.
As Washington Post reporter Leon Dash has s hown in his book When Children Want Children, most unwed teen mothers both conceive and deliver their babies deliberately rather than a~cidentally While young women do not bear unwanted children in order to reap windfall profits from welfare, they are ver y much aware of the role which welfare will play in supporting them once a child is born. Thus the availability of welfare plays an important role in influencing a womans decision to have a child out of wedlock.
Scientific research confirms that welfare be nefits to single mothers directly contribute to the rise in illegitimate births. Recent research by Dr. C.R. Winegarden of the Univer sity of Toledo found that half of the increases in black illegitimacy in recent decades could be attributed to the effect s of welfare.30 Research by Shelley Lundberg and Robert D. Plotnick of the University of Washington shows that an increase of roughly $200 per month in welfare benefits per family causes the teenage illegitimate birth rate in a state to increase by 150 per c ent.31 Dr. June ONeills research has found that, holding constant a wide range of other variables such as income, parental education, and urban and neigh borhood setting, a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of AFDC and Food Stamp benefits led to a 4 3 percent increase in the numberof out-of-wedlock births.32 Research by Mikhail Bernstam of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University shows that child bearing by young unmarried women may increase by 6 percent in response to a 10 per cent increase in m onthly welfare benefits; among blacks the increase may be as high as 10 percent If, on the other hand, the young man does what society believes is morally correct (i.e 33 29 Leon Dash, When Children Want Children: A Inside Look at the Crisis of Teenage Pa r enthood (Penguin Books 1990 30 C.R. Winegarden, AFDC and Illegitimacy Ratios: A Vector Autoregressive Model Applied Economics, March 1988, pp. 1589-1601 31 Shelley Eundberg and Robert D. Plotnick, Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Opportunity Costs M atter?
June 1990, a revised version of a paper presented at the May 1990 Population Association of America Conference in Toronto, Canada. 32 Hill and ONeill, op. cit 33 Mikhail Bernstam, Malthus and the Evolution of the Welfare State: An Essay on the Secon d Invisible Hand, Part 11, paper presented at the Annual Meting of the Population Association of America, April 1988, p 61. See also Martha Ozawa, Welfare Polices and Illegitimate Birth Rates Among Adolescents: Analysis of State by State Data, Social Work Research and Abstracts. March 1989, pp. 5- 1 1 10 Similarly, high benefits discourage single mothers from remarrying. Research by Dr.
Robert Hutchens of Cornel1 University shows that a 10 percent increase in AFDC bene fits in a state will cause a decrease in the marriage rate of all single mothers in the state by 8 percent.34 Consequences of Family Disintegration The collapse of family structure in turn has crippling effects on the health, emotional stability, educational achievements, and life prospects o f low-income children. Children born out of wedlock, when compared to those in intact families, are almost twice as likely to exhibit anti-social behavior. They are a quarter to 50 percent more likely to manifest behavioral problems such as anxiety, depre s sion, hyperactivity, or depend en~e In regard to more extreme disorders, children deprived of a two-parent home are two to three times more likely to need psychiatric care than those in two-parent fami lies.36 And they are more likely to commit suicide as teenagers ent families are likely to begin sexual activity at younger age, thereby increasing the chances of having,a child out of wedlock as a teena creases the probability that a child will use drugs.
Because the father plays an important role in a chil ds cognitive development, children in single-parent families score lower on IQ tests and other tests of mental ability.39 Chil dren in single-parent families are three times as likely to fail and repeat a year in grade school than are children in intact t w o-parent families? They are almost four times more likely to be expelled or suspended from school?1 In all respects, the differences between children raised in single-parent homes and those raised in intact homes are profound, and the stark differences pe rsist even if single-parent homes are compared to two-parent homes of similar income level.
But the greatest tragedy is that children from broken homes, when grown to adulthood will pass the same problems on to their own children. Weakened in their own dev elop ment, children from single-parent homes are markedly less likely to be able to establish a stable married life when they become adults. Young white women raised in single-parent When compared to adolescents from two-parent families, adolescents from single-par Absence of a father also in- 38 42 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 Robert Hutchens, Welfare, Remarriage, and Marital Search, American Economic Review, June 1979, pp. 369-379.
Deborah Dawson, Family Structure and Childrens Health: United States 19
88. Data from the National Health Survey, Series 10: No. 178 (Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. June 1991).
Dr. Deborah A. Dawson, Family Structure and Childrens Health and Well-being: Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Toronto, May 1990,Table 5.
Brent C. Miller and Kristin A. Moore, Adolescent Sexual Behavior, Pregnancy and Parenting: Research Through the 198Os, Journal of Marriage and the Family, November 1990, p. 1028.
Nicholas Davidson, The Daddy Dearth, Policy Review, Winter 1990. p. 43.
Marybeth Shinn, Father Absence and Childrens Cognitive Development, Psychological Bulletin, Vol 85. No. 2 Dawson, 199 1, op. cit.
Ibid. Dawson, op. cit Davidson, op. cir 1978). pp. 295-324 11 families are 164 percent more likely to bear children out of wedlock themselves and 11 1 percent more likely to have c hildren as teenagers. If these women do marry, their mar riages are 92 percent more likely to end in divorce than are the marriages of women raised in two-parent families. Family instability and its attendant problems are passed on to future generations. A nd being raised in a single-parent famil also triples the prob ability that a child will become a welfare recipient as an adult. d5 Family Breakdown Fuels Crime One of the most visible and dramatic consequences of family breakup is the increase in crime. Research by Douglas Smith and Roger Jarjoura shows the greater the percentage of single-par ent families with children in a neighbor hood,the higher the rates of vio lent crime and burglary.
In striking contrast, the percentage of low-income families in a neighborhood was not re lated to the crime rate.
The authors conclude that the higher crime rates in black neigh borhoods are Does Welfare Reduce Crime? A 1200% Increase in Spending Accompanied by a Tripling of Crime Welfare Spending in Crimes Der IO0,OOO People Billions of I993 Dollar 7.000 6.000 5,000 4.0bO 3.000 2.000 1,000 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 92 Note: Figures include federal, state. and local means-tested welfare spending.
Source: US. Department of Justice, Sourcebook for Cnrninoljust.ice Statistics. 1993 350 300 250 200 I50 100 50 caused largely by the greater number of single-parent families, not by the lower income of blacks. Other factors which were found to contribute to high crime were population density, mobility, and percentage of adolescents in the neighb0rhood.4 tween crime and single-parent families. Using data from the National Longitudinal Sur vey of Youth, ONeill-foundthat youngblack men raised in single-parent families were twice as likely to engage in criminal activities when compared t o black men raised in Dr. June ONeills excellent research on underclass behaviors confirms the linkage be 43 Irwin Garfinkel and Sara S. McLanahan, Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma Washington, D.C The Urban Institute Press, 1986 p . 3 1 44 Douglas Smith and G. Roger Jarjoura, Social Structure and Criminal Victimization, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, February 1988. pp. 27-52 12 two-parent families, even after holdingconstant a wide range of variables such as family in c ome, urban residence, neighborhood environment, and parents education. Growing up in a single-parent family in a neighborhood with many other single-parent families on welfare triples the probability that a young black man will engage in criminal a~tivity . 4 Dr. ONeills research also shows that high welfare benefits are linked to high crime rates among young black men. Holding constant a wide range of social and economic variables-such as urbanization, neighborhood, family background, and income ONeill foun d that a 50 percent increase in the monthly dollar value of combined Food Stamp and AFDC benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men46 A reasonable interpretation of this finding is that higher welfare benefits lead to an erosion of family structure, work ethic, and general social norms and thus to higher crime within the community.
Oblivious to the facts, for over three decades liberals have argued that increased wel fare and social spending would reduce crime by tackling its alleged root causes. But as Chart Three shows crime rates have exploded over the last the three decades while wel fare spending was s~aring:~And in an exhaustive review of the scholarly literature on violent crime, Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Patr i ck Fagan has shown why children reared in single-parent families are far more likely to become violent The evidence is clear, welfare spending, by promoting family breakup, has played a large role in increasing crime THE EMERGING WHITE UNDERCLASS For year s , some politicians have been willing to callously overlook the mushrooming crisis of welfare and the underclass because they erroneously believed the problem was unique to inner-city blacks. Although the devastation caused by the disintegration of the bla ck family is obvious, some have quietly believed that family breakup was quarantined to urban minorities and thus did not pose an overwhelming threat to mainstream society no matter how frightening life became for those residing in the inner city.
Evidence is now piling up that this head in the sand attitude has been dangerous and illusory. In an extremely influential article, The Coming of the White Underclass, pub lished in The Wall Street Journal, social critic Charles Murray shows that the problems gen erally associated with the black inner-city underclass are quickly spreading into the larger society.
Murray points out that when Daniel Patrick Moynihan first warned of the impending collapse of the black family in the early 1960s, the black out-of wedloc k birth rate was around 25 percent. Moynihans warning of the coming disintegration of the black family 49 45 Hill and ONeill, op. cif 46 Ibid 47 Crime data on the chart are from the Uniform Crime Reports 48 Patrick F. Fagan, The Real Root Causes of Violen t Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1026, March 17,1995 49 Charles Murray, The Coming White Underclass, The Wall Srreer Journal, October 29, 1993 13 and the attendant social consequences were vilif i ed at the time. Of course, the breakup of the black family and the accompanying social calamities have far outstripped Moyni hans worst nightmares a few points shy of the black rate when Moynihan first issued his prophetic warnings in the early 1960s. Wor se, the illegitimate birth rate among lower income whites is far above the aggregate rate of 22 percent and is rising at an explosive rate. Among white high school dropouts the out-of-wedlock birth rate is now 48 percent, up from 35 percent a decade ago.
A s Murray points out the problems of the white underclass are already becoming vis ible. European-American whites are the ethnic group with the most arrests for serious crime, the most illegitimate children, the most families on welfare, and the most perso n s in poverty. Moreover, the white out-of-wedlock birth rate is now reaching a critical threshold. In many white working class communities, the illegitimacy rate may now ex ceed one-third and will soon approach one-half. Historic experience in black commun i ties indicates that as illegitimate birth rates approach these levels, the social order in such communities quickly disintegrates. Working class communities become transformed into underclass neighborhoods.
The emerging white underclass neighborhoods will be dominated by three charac teristics. First, the already weakened social stigma against illegitimacy will evaporate and out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families will become the accepted social nor m . Second, as young men are released from their traditional roles as husbands and breadwinners, their work ethic will erode; joblessness and underemployment will rise sharply. Third, as the number of young men raised without fathers increases in a commu ni t y and the number of adult males serving as positive role models shrinks, male adoles cents will be drawn to violent and anti-social role models in increasing numbers; the crime rate will skyrocket ties back in 1965 Alarmingly, Murray warns that the white i llegitimate birth rate is now 22 percent, only As Moynihan prophetically warned of the impending chaos in black urban communi From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard to the riot-tom suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable l esson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future-that co m munity asks for and gets chaos In such a society crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure these are not only to be expected, they are virtually inevitable The underclass culture of aimless male violence which Moyniha n warned of nearly thirty years ago now dominates major sections of Americas cities. As family disintegra 50 50 Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1965, quoted in William J. Bennett, The Index of Leading Cultural indicators: Facts and Figures on rhe State of Ameri can Society (New York: Touchstone, 1994 p. 54 14 tion steadily spreads through American society the culture of the underclass will spread with it.
While the collapse of the black family in the late 1960s and 1970s brought with it enor mous personal and soc ial costs which must not be minimized, the impending collapse of the white family threatens society itself. This is largely a matter of numbers; blacks con stitute roughly one-tenth of the U.S. population. Although the breakup of the black fam ily has inf licted great suffering on blacks themselves, society at large has been able to tol erate family breakup in this relatively small and socially isolated sub-population.
If the epidemic of illegitimacy spreads into the general white population, the results wi ll be quite different. While the taxpayer has been able to sustain the manifold welfare social service, and education costs brought about by high black illegitimate birth rates these costs quickly will become insupportable as the out-of-wedlock birth rate rises in the much larger white population. As the white family collapses, the crime rate which has turned life in Americas inner cities into a nightmare will spread throughout society.
And since children raised in fatherless families have much greater difficulties assuming socially and economically productive roles, the breakup of the family will, within a few years, begin to undermine the national economy.
It is important to recognize the time lag inherent in many problems associated with ille gitimacy. The high crime rate among urban youths today is, in a large measure, occurring among males born out of wedlock during the 1970s. But since the 1970s, the illegitimate birth rate has risen even further, even higher crime problems should result in the decad e ahead as the greater number of children born in broken families during the 1980s come of age. Thus even if the present out-of-wedlock birth rate were cut to zero immediately there would be many years of escalating crime and social problems before there w ould be a turn for the better. If the illegitimate birth rate continues to rise, the effects are al most unimaginable.
As Charles Murray puts it, every once in a while the sky really is falling, and this seems to be the case with the latest national figure s on illegitima~y The collapse of the family is the most important political issue facing American society because it is the root cause of so many other social and economic problems. Policy makers must make im mediate.and profound changes that will restor e the .family and dramatically reduce the out-of-wedlock birth rate Tackling Causes, Not Symptoms This means that serious welfare reform must focus on the root behavioral problems of illegitimacy and divorce, not merely on the superficial symptom of welfar e dependence.
Despite rhetoric avowing to.end welfare as we know it, President Clinton appears to be unprepared to take the serious steps needed to deal with the crisis of illegitimacy. Most of the rhetoric on reform emanating from the White House poses th e problem of welfare backwards. The Clinton Administration seeks to devise schemes to prod and assist indi viduals to leave welfare rather than seeking to reduce the self-destructive behavior that led to dependence in the first place. This approach to ref o rm is self-deluding; it simply 51 Murray, The Coming White Underclass, op. cir 15 will not work. No array of government programs is going to make a 20-year-old woman who has had one or two children out of wedlock self-sufficient. Nor, despite her best eff orts, is that single mother likely to be able to provide a truly healthy emotional envi ronment for her children to grow up in.
Societies through the ages have recognized that it takes the efforts of at least two per sons, a father and a mother, to provide the economic and psychological support needed to raise children. Women who have children out of wedlock invariably impose a heavy fi nancial burden on the society around them. A fathers absence also threatens the psycho logical well-being of his children . Thus societies historically have gone to great lengths to encourage marriage and, conversely, to discourage illegitimacy. In the recent past the United States has experimented with reversing this common wisdom by aggressively sub sidizing single parentho od and penalizing marriage. The results of their experiment have been disastrous.
For the well-being of American children and the safety of society, a moral sense of re sponsible parenthood must be restored, based on the common sense principle that it is i m moral to have children unless one is fully prepared to raise those children. To be fully pre pared to raise children means three simple things. First, the mother and father must be married and committed to a life together. Second, the parents must be ma t ure and psycho logically ready for the difficult task of raising the young. Third, the parents should be eco nomically productive and self-sufficient; they should be able to sustain a family without large amounts of ongoing financial support from the larg er community.
The welfare system mainly involves failed attempts to pick up the pieces for an ever in creasing number of individuals who have violated the above rules. But, from the perspec tive of society and the child, to have a baby you cannot financial ly or psychologically support is profoundly irresponsible. Government policy not only must stop subsidizing and promoting such irresponsible behavior, it must actively discourage it A COMPREHENSIVE WELFARE REFORM POLICY The welfare system with its huge co s ts and manifold harmful consequences requires d promoting individual responsibility by converting welfare from a one way immediate and drastic reform. Reform should aim at three goals handout into a system in which recipients are expected to contribute so m ething back for temporary aid received d controlling welfare costs d dramatically reducing the illegitimate birthrate and increasing the Achieving these goals will require a broad array of policy changes. In some cases it will be imperative to eliminate t h e welfare benefits that promote harmful and anti-social behavior. In other cases it may be sufficient to require welfare recipients to perform com munity service in exchange for benefits. In some circumstances, welfare benefits may be converted into loans which the recipient will be expected to repay at a future time.
Serous reform should also include new incentives which encourage positive behavior marriage rate 16 Finally, all welfare reform must be undergirded by firm budgetary controls on the growth of future welfare spending. Welfare bureaucracies are prolific in inventing new welfare programs which allegedly promote self-sufficiency, but which accomplish noth ing or actually draw more people into welfare dependence. Without definite limits on the fun ds flowing into the welfare system, such counter-productive reforms are difficult to block.
To meet these goals, reform should be based on the following twelve steps 1) Cap the Growth of Welfare Spending and End Welfare as an Entitlement. Any fair observer would note that no matter how frequently policy makers end welfare the costs continue to rise. Welfare absorbed around 1.5 percent of GNP when Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty in 1965; it had risen to over 5 percent by 1992.
With a $324 billion price tag, welfare spending now amounts to around $8,300 for each poor person in the U.S. Worse, Congressional Budget Office figures show total welfare costs rising to a half trillion dollars, about 6 percent of GDP, by 1998.52 The long history of bogus w elfare reforms, all of which were promised to save money but did not, leads to one obvious conclusion. The only way to limit the growth of welfare spending is to do just that: limit the growth of welfare spending. The wel fare system must be put on a diet .
To accomplish this, welfare entitlements must be ended. Most separate federal non medical welfare programs should be eliminated and the funds should be pooled into a single non-medical welfare block grant to the states. The future growth of federal 53 mea ns-tested, non-medical spending should then be capped at 3 percent per annum.
Comprehensive reform along these lines is provided in The Welfare Reform Act of 1994 (S.2 134) introduced by Senators Lauch Faircloth, Charles Grassley, and Hank Brown and the co mpanion bill (H.R. 4566) introduced by JimTalent, Tim Hutchinson and Charles Canady in the House of Representatives. Limiting the growth of mean tested non-medical spending in this manner would save some $90 billion in federal spending over the next five years relative to the projected baseline.
By slowing the outpouring from the federal welfare spigot, the cap would gradually reduce the subsidization of dysfunctional behavior: dependency, non-work, and illegiti macy. The cap would send a warning signal to state welfare bureaucracies. Cushioned by a steady and increasing flow of federal funds in the past, most bureaucracies have found no need to grapple with the tough and controversial policies needed to really re duce illegitimacy and dependency. With a c a p on future federal funds, state govem ments would, for the first time, be forced to adopt innovative and aggressive policies that would reduce the welfare rolls 52 These figures represent estimated federal, state and local spending on means-tested welfar e programs and aid to economically disadvantaged communities. The Congressional Budget Office estimates only future federal spending.
Future state and local spending figures were estimated separately by assuming that ratio of federal spending to state and local spending on specific programs would remain unchanged. This is a reasonable assumption since the required state contribution to most federal welfare programs is legislatively established at a fixed percentage of federal spending on that program. Thes e percentages change little over time.
Means-tested veterans programs would be exempt from the cap 53 17 Similarly the entitlement nature of Medicaid should be eliminated. Medicaid and other means-tested medical programs should be converted into a single m edical block grant for the states which would increase at the rate of medical inflation; this would save $99.5 billion over the next five years relative to the projected baseline 2) Limit Welfare Benefits to Young Unwed Mothers. The present welfare system , by paying young women to have children out of wedlock, encourages them in a course of action that in the long term proves self-defeating to the mothers and harmful to both the children and society. Placing millions of single mothers in work and training pro grams will have little positive effect for society as long as the illegitimate birth rate re mains over 30 percent.
Congress must go to the heart of the dependency problem by seeking to reduce the number of illegitimate births. It has been a tragic mistake for the government to pay money to 14-year-old girls on the condition that they have children out-of-wedlock.
The government should begin to address the illegitimacy problem by ending the disas trous present policy of giving direct AFDC and Food Stam p benefits to unmarried young mothers.This would almost certainly result in a sharp and substantial drop in il legitimacy.
However, the government should not simply abandon all aid to children born out of wedlock; federal AFDC and Food Stamp funds current ly given directly to unwed moth ers under age 21 should be converted into block grants to the states. State governments could use the funds to develop innovative policies for assisting those teenagers who continue to have children out of wedlock. Such pol icies could include promoting adop tion and orphanages or supporting the mothers in tightly supervised group homes, but federal funds could no longer be used to simply give direct welfare benefits to teen mothers.
The limitation on benefits should apply to all children born to unwed mothers aged 21 and under one year or more after the date of enactment of the legislation. Three years after enactment the age limit should be raised: AFDC and Food Stamp benefits would no longer be available to women under age 25 who, in future years, have chil dren out of wedlock. The funds that ordinarily would have gone to these mothers would again be provided to state governments as block grants.
Out-of-wedlock births are primarily a tragedy of the young; two-thirds of all chil dren born out of wedlock are born to women under
25. Sadly, out-of-wedlock birth and single parenthood are quickly becoming a normal life-style option among young women in many communities in the U.S. This proposed policy change would eliminate much of the welfare aid that supports and encourages this self-defeating and ultimately socially costly behavior. By initially focusing on younger unwed mothers, the policy would seek to reduce illegitimacy first among those mothers with the least prospects f o r supporting and successfully raising children. Eventually, however, federal direct payments to unwed mothers at all ages should be eliminated 3) Do Not Provide Increased AFDC and Food Stamp Benefits to Mothers Who Bear Additional Children While Already E n rolled in the AFDC Program. Under the current welfare system, if a mother enrolled in AFDC bears additional children she receives an automatic increase in her AFDC and Food Stamp benefits. No other family in U.S. society receives an automatic increase in i ts family income if it has 18 more children. There is no reason to provide expanded welfare benefits to single moth ers who have additional illegitimate children after they are already dependent on wel fare. A limitation of this sort has already been put i n effect in the state of New Jersey by Democratic Assemblyman Wayne Bryant. Evidence from controlled scientific ex periments designed to determine the effects of the family cap show a 19 percent to 29 percent decrease in illegitimate births to mothers on A FDC as a result of the ~ap5 4) Require Paternity Establishment for Children Receiving AFDC. Current law re quires that an AFDC mother must make a good faith effort to identify the father of the child in order to receive AFDC. This law is ignored. The gove r nment should re quire, for children born after January 1995, that the mother must identify the father of the child in order to receive any federally funded welfare Exceptions to this rule in a few hardship cases could be given, but the exceptions should n ot exceed ten per cent.
Modem DNA testing permits determination of a childs real father with absolute confidence. Once the mother has identified the father and paternity has been estab lished the father can be required to pay child support to offset welfar e costs. If the fa ther claims he cannot pay any child support because he cannot find a job, the govern ment may require community service work from him to fulfill his obligation. Experi ments with this approach in Wisconsin have led to surprising increas e s in the ability of absent fathers to locate private sector employment and pay child support. Moreover the definite expectation among young men that they will be identified as fathers and re quired to pay child support for their children may put an end to the ethos in some com munities where young men assert their masculinity by fathering children they have no intention to support.
One additional policy to enforce male accountability is needed. In many inner-city communities, when 16- or 17-year-old girls become pregnant, the father is often four or five years older than the girl. Such cases represent statutory rape, a serious criminal offense. States should act vigorously and visibly to enforce their statutory rape laws in such cases as a means of deterri n g such predatory male behavior in the future 5) Reduce Welfares Marriage Penalty. The current welfare system heavily penalizes marriage between a mother and a working man. This marriage penalty should be re duced by creating a tax credit for lower income p arents who are married and who are working rather than living on welfare. The pro-marriage tax credit should be available to low-income married couples who are living together and supporting dependent chil dren; the family should have the equivalent of at least one adult working full time. The credit should be refundable and should have a maximum value of $1,000 6) Provide Increased Funding for Abstinence Education. Scientific experiments have shown that strong sexual abstinence curricula substantially cha nge teenagers attitudes 54 55 Robert Rector, New Jersey Experiment Sharply Cuts illegitimate Births Among Welfare Mothers, Heritage Foundation F. Y.I No. 50, February 9, 1995.
For children born years ago it often is impossible to locate the father. The paternity establishment rule should therefore be applied prospectively: the mother should be required to establish paternity in order to receive welfare for children born in 1995 and after 19 have been reduced by over 40 percent when compared to girls who have not taken the sex abstinence classes56 By contrast, programs promoting contraception often in crease pregnancy rates 7) Abstinence and Pregnancy Prevention. The federal gove r nment should also encour age states to experiment aggressively with abstinence-related programs which provide rewards to at-risk women for avoiding out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Such programs should be strictly limited to women who have a very high probabilit y of becoming un married mothers and should be scientificall evaluated to ensure that they have a cost- effective impact in reducing illegitimacy. 57 For example, such an illegitimacy prevention program might. be structured as fol lows: an at-risk girl cou l d be enrolled in a prevention program at age 17 and informed that if she behaved responsibly and avoided pregnancy for the next four years she would receive a $4,000 reward. If the young women avoided pregnancy, in each sub sequent year $1,000 would be pl a ced in a escrow account. If the young women com pleted the full four-year period without becoming pregnant outside of marriage she would receive the funds in the escrow account. If, however, she became pregnant at any point during the four years, all the e scrow funds would be forfeit 8) Establish Serious Workfare. The key to successful workfare is' the number of welfare recipients who are required to participate. Most able-bodied welfare recipients should be required to perform work in exchange for any ben efits received. Real reform would require all fathers in the AFDC-UP program to perform community service work forty hours per week in 19
94. It would also require able-bodied, non-elderly single persons in the Food Stamp program to work. Finally, half of all single mothers on AFDC should be required to perform community work service for benefits by 1996 9) Establish Sensible Workfare Priorities. Workfare programs should be efficient and low cost. Workfare should be established first for those persons who h ave the least jus tification for being out of the labor force. Therefore workfare requirements should be imposed initially on able-bodied, non-elderly single persons on welfare, followed by fathers in two-parent families on welfare and absent fathers who f ail to pay child sup After workfare has been put in operation for the preceding groups, those sin le mothers on AFDC who do not have pre-school children should be required to work. 49 56 US. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Pr e gnancy Programs, Final Report O.A.P.P 57 Programs which provide rewards for pregnancy prevention should be limited to women who have a high probability of becoming unmarried mothers, specifically: women who have below average math and verbal skills who we r e themselves born out-of wedlock and who received AFDC as children 58 For example, modest-work requirements on males in the Food Stamp program have beenshown to significantly reduce welfare rolls, cutting welfare cost by nearly a third and imhediately sav i ng several dollars. in welfare expenditures for every dollar spent operating the work program. See data on the San Diego Food Stamp workfare program in U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis and Evaluation, Food Sta mp Work Registration and Job Search Demonstration: Final Report, Contract No. 53-3 198-0-
85. July 1986 pp. 169,251 59 There should be no blanket two-year exemption from work requirements. Work requirements which are imposed when a recipient first enrolls in welfare are likely to have the strongest possible effect in reducing welfare rolls 000816-05. 1985-1990, p. 8 20 High day care expenses mean that putting a single mother with a young child to work in a community service work program costs roughly two t o three times as much as requiring a mother with an older child to work. Because work programs inevitably operate within fixed budgets, an emphasis on workfare participation by mothers with younger children leads to a sharp reduction in the total number of persons who will be required to work. One little understood aspect of the workfare debate is that liberals often attempt to focus workfare programs on mothers with very young children pre cisely because they understand this will quickly soak up available f unds and thereby limit the number of recipients required to participate. Liberal welfare advocates also would like to undermine the general concept of workfare by showing that all workfare programs cost more than they save; they promote the least cost-eff ective workfare pro grams (i.e., those with a heavy emphasis on mothers with young children) precisely for that purpose.
Around half of AFDC single mothers do not have any pre-school children under age five. Workfare should be imposed on single mothers wit h younger children under five only after most mothers with older children have been required to work. (However, if an AFDC mother gave birth to an added child after her initial enrollment in AFDC that child would not exempt her from work requirements even if the child were under age five. This rule is needed to prevent mothers from having additional children to es cape the work requirement 10) Recognize the Limits of Job Training. A perennial panacea in the welfare debate is to provide education and job tr a ining to single mothers to enable them to obtain good jobs and become self-sufficient. Unfortunately, despite over three decades of experi ence the government has never been able to run training programs that raise the wage rates of welfare recipients by m ore than a tiny amount. For example, the U.S. Depart ment of Labor recently completed a controlled scientific evaluation of its massive Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) program. Labors own evaluation of JTPA showed the program had little effect on the w ages of trainees. The average hourly wage of fe male trainees was raised by 3.4 percent; the hourly wages of males were not increased at lient given the very low cognitive ability levels of many welfare mothers. A recent study by Child Trends, Inc. finds t hat mothers in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program have significantly lower math and verbal abilities than other women of the same ethnic group who were not enrolled in welfare programs. When all U.S women are ranked according to basic mat h and verbal skills, over half of welfare moth ers are found to have cognitive skill levels placing them in the bottom 20 percent of the overall population. The study states: The average aptitude or achievement scores The complete lack of effectiveness of g overnment training programs is especially sa when a recipient first enrolls in welfare are likely to have the strongest possible effect in reducing welfare rolls because they dissuade individuals from enrolling in welfare in the first place. Thus serious work requirements mandated at the time of initial welfare enrollment are likely to be the most cost effective workfare programs.
U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, The National JTPA Study: Title II-A Impacts on Earnings and Employment at 18 Months. Research and Evaluation Report 93-C, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Department of Labor, 1993 60 21 of welfare mothers are significantly below the mean of even the lowest of the occupa tional classes.yy6 The government can do little if anything to alter these cognitive skill levels.
The very low cognitive abilities of the average welfare mother, coupled with the im potence of government educational and training programs and the cost of child care underscore the futility of reform schemes a imed narrowly at making unwed mothers employed and self-sufficient. Rather than reforms aimed at enabling single mothers to go it alone, what is needed are more fundamental changes aimed at reducing illegiti macy and restoring marriage. To repeat the basi c historical lesson: raising children is a difficult and expensive task which generally requires the efforts of the mother and fa ther bound by the commitment of marriage. It is very difficult for a single parent to de vote the great time and emotional eff ort needed to raise a child while also working to support the family. The importance of marriage and the contribution of both parents is intensified in the case of parents with low personal skills and earning capacity.
The well-being of American children r equires policy changes that will not only re duce illegitimacy and promote marriage, but will also encourage potential parents to defer child-bearing until both the mother and the father have acquired the education job skills, and personal maturity needed to financially support a family and properly nurture children. Above all, it is imperative to eliminate the wide array of programs which subsidize and encourage young, poorly educated girls to have children out of wedlock in the first place 11) Convert So m e Welfare Benefits into loans. Workfare programs can be difficult to administer and expensive to operate. In some cases, it may be easier to require a wel fare recipient to repay at a future time any aid received during a temporary time of need. This poli c y would not be feasible, of course, for most unwed mothers who will have difficulty ever supporting their families, let alone repaying welfare debts. How ever, the policy may be appropriate for many divorced parents. Roughly 40 percent of AFDC families ar e divorced or separated vorce exacts a severe price on children. When compared to intact families, children in divorced families are 50 percent more likely to exhibit behavioral problems. They are almost twice as likely to engage in anti-social behavior an d twice as likely to fail in school.
Society should take active steps to discourage divorce, rather than to promote it.
State governments should institute cooling off periods for couples seeking divorce and should eliminate no-fault divorce for parents wi th dependent children. The federal Divorce has many of the same harmful consequences for children as illegitimacy. Di 62 63 government should curtail the current welfare subsidies for divorce 61 Nicholas Zill, Kristin Moore, Christine Ward, and Thomas Sti ef. Welfare Mothers as Potential Employees: A Statistical Profile Bused on National Survey Data, February 25,19
91. Child Trends, Inc., 2100 M Street. N.W Suite 610, Washington. D.C. 20037 62 Dawson, op. cir 63 All means-tested welfare benefits promote div orce as well as illegitimacy. Means-tested programs offer benefits to families with earned income below a certain cut off level. Such programs promote household splitting or 22 It is immoral for the government to tax married couples in order to subsidize p arents who divorce. While it may be necessary to provide temporary aid to divorced families during a short period of transition, such aid should not constitute a permanent transfer of wealth from intact to divorced families. Because divorced parents, in g e neral, have higher earnings potential than unwed mothers, it is more reasonable to require that they repay welfare aid. Divorced parents entering the AFDC system should be given the option of promptly participating in a work service program, or of tempora rily re ceiving conventional AFDC and food stamp benefits as a loan for up to two years.
If welfare benefits are accepted as a loan, both the custodial and the non-custodial parent should be required to contribute to the repayment. The parent who was at fa ult in the divorce should repay a greater share of the loan. The repayment period could be long-term, lasting a decade or more 12) Provide Additional Incentives to Encourage Constructive Behavior. Welfare re form should not only eliminate the large curren t rewards for self-destructive behavior it should also provide new incentives to reward positive behavior: marriage, self con trol, and work. Congress has already taken steps in this direction by expanding the Earned IncomeTax Credit (EITC) in 1990 and aga in in 19
93. In contrast to other wel fare programs, the EITC is available to families where at least one parent is gainfully employed. Thus the EITC supplements the income of low-skill parents who are work ing and striving to be self-sufficient. In accord with recent legislative changes, the EITC will be incrementally increased reaching a maximum value of $3,536 for a low income family with two children in 1996, up from around $1,000 in 1989 While the EITC is generally constructive in comparison to other w elfare programs it is also quite expensive to the taxpayer. Therefore expansion of the EITC should be paid for by cuts in other welfare programs which offer perverse incentives to the poor divorce in the following manner: most husband's earnings are suffi c ient to make the family ordinarily ineligible for welfare; as long as the parents remain married they get no welfare. However, when the couple splits or divorces the wife and children become eligible for welfare. The divorced couple's total income now equ als the husband's earnings plus the wife's welfare. By divorcing the couple will actually increase its overall income.
Non-means-tested or universal welfare progr ams (such as the child allowance common in many European countries) offer cash payments to all families regardless of earned income levels. These programs also promote single parenthood because they make the father's role as breadwinner far less necessary . While the anti-marriage effects of such universal programs are not as pronounced as those of means-tested programs, they are far more expensive.
Unlike other welfare programs, the EITC is restricted to individuals who work. Changes enacted in 1993 will g radually increase the value of the credit over time. By 1996 a parent with two children will receive a refundable credit worth 40 percent of annual earned income up to earnings of $8,4
25. For families with earned income between 8,425 and $12,500 the credit is worth about $3,3
00. As faiidy earnings'rise above roughly $12,500 the.value of the EITC is phased down, reaching zero at around $24,0
00. Since the EITC increases the returns to work relative to welfare, it encourages families to leave AFDC. On th e other hand, the EITC's income effect (and substitution effect for earnings above $12,500) would tend to reduce labor effort among low income working families in general.
Thus, enlarging the EITC would reduce debilitating dependence in which families per form no work and remain totally dependent on government aid for years at a time-but will also slightly reduce work effort among non-dependent. low income parents. The recent expansion of the earned income tax credit to individuals who are not parents has n o merit and should be repealed 64 23 REINFORCING WELFARE REFORM WITH MORAL AND CULTURAL RENEWAL6 While serious welfare reform is a necessary step in dealing with the problems of the underclass and family disintegration, it is not sufficient. Welfare progr ams, by subsidiz ing self-destructive behavior have played a huge role in promoting underclass problems.
But welfare is not the sole cause of these burgeoning problems: changing cultural values and norms concerning sexual behavior, marriage, work, respect for others, and self con trol have also played a heavy role.66 Members of Congress and others seeking a compre hensive solution must look beyond reforming welfare programs and into the broader cul ture.
The plight of the underclass is rooted in behavior; behavior in turn is molded by the cultural values and nom of low-income communities and the larger society. For the problems of the underclass to be solved, there must be a dramatic change in behavior which in turn will require an enormous shift in underl ying norms and values. Policy mak ers must seek to reanimate within low-income communities the ethical principles which are the foundation of successful society.
It is a chasm of values and behavior which today separates the underclass and the chronically poor from the American middle class. Quite simply, there are three rules for escaping from poverty in America 0 finish high school 8 get a job, any job, and stick with it do not have children outside of marriage.
Those who abide by these rules of middle-c lass existence will not be chronically poor in the U.S. Those who violate these rules are very likely to be trapped at the margins of our society. They and their children will disproportionately become a burden and eventually a threat to the very society which supports them.
Government leaders seeking to reestablish sound norms and values within vulnerable groups could do well to look to reforms of the past. Few people realize that 19th century America fought several Wars on Poverty which, in contrast to t he 20th century version were quite successful. These historic anti-poverty efforts were headed by non-governmen tal institutions, primarily churches, who saw poverty as emanating from behavior and in dividual ~haracter They took as their central task the m olding of character and self-dis cipline within vulnerable low-income communities. Typical of these earlier anti-poverty efforts was the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA established as an instrument to combat urban crime. The YMCA saw its mission as molding .the moral.character of the 65 Portions of this section appeared in Robert Rector, Try the Differencevalues Can Make. Insight. December 13 66 Myron Magnet, The Dream arid the Nightmare: the Sixties Legacy to the Underclass (New York: William Morro w and Company, 1993 67 Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion (Washington, D.C Regnery Gateway, 1992 1993, pp. 22-24 24 young: it successfully undertook a struggle to win the hearts and minds of inner-city youth of the 19th century century succe e ded because they were spearheaded by value-laden Protestant, Catholic and Jewish religious institutions. By contrast, efforts to fight urban poverty in the 20th century have failed in a large part because they relied on value free government pro grams enc e , Americans must fully utilize all the vital resources within society. History, com mon sense, and research all show that there is one neglected institution which is ideally suited to lead this struggle of moral renewal in low-income communities and acros s the nation: the church. Research by Dr. Richard Freeman of Harvard University shows that black inner-city youth who have religious values are 47 percent less likely to drop out of school, 54 percent less likely to use drugs, and 50 ercent less likely to e ngage in crimi nal activities than those without religious values also been shown to greatly reduce pre-marital sexual activity among adolescent girls.69 Studies also show that young people who attend church have a positive affect on the be havior of othe r youngsters in their immediate neighborhood. The effect of young people motivated by religious values is the exact opposite of the heavily publicized negative peer pressure exerted by street gangs who suck the young into lives of aimless violence and alie n ati~n The lessons of the past are clear. Efforts to tackle underclass problems in the previous In grappling with the burgeoning problems of family disintegration, crime, and depend 6ff Religious belief and practice have The church is thus Americas stronge s t weapon in the war against family disintegra tion, crime, drugs, and despair in low-income communities. Churches can clearly suc ceed in tackling these problems where government has failed. Rather that relegating the churches to the social periphery, pol i cy makers must unleash their energy, permitting them to play a much greater role in educating and molding the character of youth. The key to harnessing the churchs untapped social strength is another crucial public policy is sue: school choice. Poor paren t s should be given vouchers equivalent to the sum which is spent educating their children in the public schools. The parents would be free to use the voucher to place their children into a school of their own choice, including private re ligious schools. I f voucher plans were put in place in large cities, dozens of high quality private religious schools would immediately spring up in each city operating as adjuncts of urban churches. Many low-income parents, struggling to save their sons and daughters from t he social tide of violence, drugs, and sexual promiscuity, would be overjoyed to place their children under the firm moral tutelage of such church-related schools. And each school in turn would function as a focal point of moral renewal emanating into the surrounding community 68 Michael Novak, The New Consensus on Family and Welfare (Washington, D.C American Enterprise Institute 1987). p.34. 69 Brent C. Miller and Kristin A. Moore, Adolescent Sexual Behavior, Pregnancy, and Parenting: Research through the 1980s. Journal of Marriage &d the Family, November 1990, pp. 1029- 1030 70 Anne C. Case and Lawrence F. Katz, The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 3705 , May 1991 25 Liberals will argue that providing parents with vouchers which can be used in religious schools violates the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion. This is un true. The Supreme Court has clearly ruled in Mueller v. Allen an d Witters v. Washington State Department of Services for the Blind, that vouchers or tax credits can be spent for religious education without creating constitutional problems. Just as a widow can place her Social Security check in the collection plate of a church or synagogue, or a veteran can use funds from the GI bill to go to seminary without violating the constitutional pro visions against state-established religion, a poor parent may use education vouchers to place a child in a religious school. As lon g as the parent, not the government, decides where the voucher funds will be spent, the government has neither advanced nor hin dered a particular religion and there is no violation of the religious establishment clause of the First Amendment? i To combat t he growing problem of the underclass, Americans need a multi-dimen sional policy which harnesses all the vital forces in our society. But in the war against poverty and violence, the most effective social weapon, the church, lies dormant. Unlike Bill Clin t on, A1 Gore, and Jesse Jackson-and many Members of C~ngress~-who are wealthy enough to send their children to private schools, poor parents are left with the in ert monopoly of the public schools, institutions which can no longer adequately teach simple r e ading, let alone serve as the focal point for moral transformation within under class communities. In grappling with the problems of dependence and the underclass education voucher programs for low-income parents are an indispensable complement to welfare reform Restoring Balance to the Social Structure Dealing with social problems through greater reliance on non-governmental social in stitutions is nothing new. It is a return to the fundamental political philosophy upon which the American Republic was est a blished. The founding fathers placed little reliance on government as a cure for social ills. Indeed the notion that a major portion of the up bringing of younger generations should be turned over to vast government educational bureaucracies would have st artled them. In lieu of government, they placed greater reli ance on civil institutions such as the family and church.
This wisdom is reflected in the writings of one of the most astute observers of Ameri can politics and society, Alexis de Tocqueville. De Tocqueville placed a crucial emphasis on the role in American society of private associations such as religious institutions private philanthropies, clubs, fellowships, voluntary civic associations, and private moral and educational institutions. Accordi ng to de Tocqueville, these private associations or civil institutions were more important than Americas political and economic institutions.
One of the functions of private civil associations was to affirm, renew, and sustain social which made civilized l ife possible. Without these value-affirming and renewhg institu values. It was their task to inculcate into American citizenry the basic values and norms 71 See Clint Bolick, Choice in Education: Part I1 Legal Perils and Legal Opportunities, Heritage Foun d ation Buckgrounder No. 809, February 18,1991, p. 8 72 See Allyson M. Tucker and William F. Lauber, How Members of Congress Exercise School Choice, Heritage Foundation F. Y.I. No. 9, February 1, 1994 26 tions, Americans would soon lose their capacity to ma i ntain healthy families, to work honestly and diligently, to educate and govern themselves, and even to live next to one another without murder and mayhem. In other words, civil institutions provided the moral foundation which made the political and econom ic super-structure possible.
De Tocqueville saw value-affirming and-sustaining civil institutions as societys im mune system. Their ability to shape individual character and to inculcate individuals with the guiding values and norms necessary for social life was absolutely essential t o the con tinuance of society. De Tocquevilles private-civil institutions differ from government in that they are decentralized and diverse; membership is voluntary. The intimate and volun tary nature of participation in civil associations (in contrast to the mandatory and coer cive operation of government) was essential to their role of sustaining personal values and norms.
De Tocqueville was clear concerning the impotence of government, in contrast to civil institutions, to affirm and sustain personal no rms and values. He predicted that if govern ment attempted to usurp the function of civil institutions, the result would be complete social collapse. He wrote The government, by itself, is equally incapable of refreshing the circulation of feelings [Le va l ues] and ideas among a great people The morals and intelligence of a democratic people would be in as much danger as its commerce and industry if ever a government usurped the place of private associations. 73 De Tocquevilles dire predictions have come tr u e. Over the last one hundred years, the government has usurped much of the role of civil associations. One social function after another has passed from civil institutions into the tender hands of government bureauc racy: education, charity, and, increasi n gly, child-rearing. At the same time, those civil in stitutions which remain have come ever more under government control. And the govern ment, itself, has increasingly exercised the functions it usurped from civil society such as charity and education in a value-free manner-or has even gone so far as to seek to in culcate values foreign to most of society.
By arrogating ever more functions and monopolizing an ever-larger share of total fi nancial resources (which are also needed for the operation of civil institutions the gov ernment decisively undermines private civil associations. By diminishing and shoulder ing aside value-affirming and-sustaining institutions, the government wages war on soci etys natural immune ~ystem.7~ The growing underclass and th e collapse of the family are only two of the many problems which stem from this assault 73 Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America, translated by George Lawrence, edited by J.P. Mayer (Garden City New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc 1969 edition),Volum e 11, Part II, Chapter 5, p. 516 74 Some would argue that the government educational system does not actively harm or undermine civil institutions it merely offers an alternative competing source of education. According to this theory, as long as parents r e mains free to send their children a private school. the state has not truly undermined the private sphere. But the reality is that the tax burden for education and other purposes which the government imposes on most working and middle class families is no w so large that those families no longer have sufficient funds remaining after taxation to provide a quality private education for their children. The huge government tax burden thus supplants private associational activity and dramatically limits the righ t of most parents to choose education for their children which directly 27 De Tocqueville predicted the attempt of government to control and manage the econ omy would result in failure. The collapse of communist economic systems confirms this prediction. P o licy makers must recognize the equal truth of his predictions concerning the intrusion of government bureaucracy into the realm of value formation. Because true education involves the imparting of values and character on an equal par with the instruc tion of literacy and numeracy, government institutions are radically unsuited to monopo lize the education of societys young. This is particularly true in a pluralistic society in which basic values are often in conflict, and the religious beliefs which form t h e under pinning of moral behavior for most of societys members have been expelled from the public sphere. To restore moral health to our society America must restore balance be tween the governmental and social spheres; educational vouchers which allow fo r authen tic parental control over their childrens education are a good place to begin CONCLUSION Government spending on welfare now exceeds funding committed to the national de fense. The welfare state is growing rapidly, drawing more and more Americans i n to de pendence each year. The core problem behind this growth is that the current welfare sys tem.promotes self-destructive behavior: non-work, illegitimacy, and divorce. Welfare in sidiously creates its own clientele; by undermining the work ethic and fa mily structure, it generates an ever growing population in need of aid.
Immediate, drastic reform is required. Congress must take action. True reform must convert welfare from a one-way hand-out into a system of mutual responsibility in which welfare recip ients would be given aid but would be expected to contribute something back to society for assistance given. A reformed system must strongly discourage de pendency and irresponsible behavior and encourage constructive behavior. It must firmly control soar i ng welfare costs which are slowly bankrupting the nation. Finally, and most important, welfare reform must seek to greatly reduce the illegitimate birth rate in the U.S. and promote the formation of stable two-parent families. Any reform that does not dra matically reduce the illegitimate birth rate will not save money and will fail to truly help Americas children and society.
Halting the growth of the underclass will ultimately require not only welfare reform but also moral and cultural renewal. Such moral renewal will clearly not emanate from the government. However, the government can assist in the process of moral rebuilding by allowing private social institutions to play a far greater role in educating and shaping the moral code of young people. Parent s must be given far greater choice in how their children will be educated, including the right to use government vouchers to send their reflects their values. The tax burden also siphons off other funds which would ordinarily have gone to private charity f o r the operation of schools for poor children and other philanthropic activity 28 children to religious schools. The collapse of the family threatens the foundation of American society. Those working to win the battle against expanding underclass culture m ust not rely on government alone but must utilize the great strengths of all Americas social institutions.
Robert Rector Senior Policy Analyst 29