Reforming Welfare: The Promises and Limits of Workfare

Report Welfare

Reforming Welfare: The Promises and Limits of Workfare

June 11, 1987 23 min read Download Report
Robert Rector
Senior Research Fellow
Robert is a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America.

(Archived document, may contain errors)


585 June 11,1987 REFORMING mLFARE k THE PROMISES AND LIMITS OF WORKFARE INTRODUCI'ION Welfare has become a wa of life for many Americans. In an attempt to break what many lawmakers-liberal an B conservative, Democrat and Republican-see as the vicious most welfare recipients are capable of work an cf that the discipline associated with work is circle of welfare dependencjl, they are looking at welfare reforms that include work requirements for able-bodied adult welfare reci ients. It is increasingly understood that essential to break the ai m lessness of dependency. Congressional interest in welfare reform reflects the wide apeement that welfare should not be a one-way handout, but rather a balance of obligaaons between society and the beneficiary. Requiring welfare recipients to do some work, an arrangement popularly called workfare, is one means of striking this balance Lawmakers should proceed cautiously with workfare. There is a difference between trul new approaches, which impose work and job search obligations on those receiving Moreover, although some workfare experiments of the last six years have met with some success, claims made for most of the expensive voluntary programs, such as Massachusetts ET program, are exaggerated. For most other workfare initiatives, the jury is still out Go l d-Plated Programs. Policymakers thus should hesitate before enacting "workfare legislation. In articular, they should focus on sim le programs with clear, limited goals governors. dstoy shows that there is little relationship between the cost of work prog r ams and thelr effectiveness. Less expensive programs based on re uired job search more successful than those offering elaborate trainhg we Y are, and recycled old approaches, which drape themselves in a workfare mantle and not the o P d-plated programs wi t h generous P ederal support desired by some and service in government or nonprofit organizations in return for bene ?i ts appear .to be All work programs should be mandatory: they should require participation rather than relying on recipients to volunteer . The main objective of workfare should be to replace de endency wth an obligation to contribute to the support of self and family. This is not o np y fair to society but beneficial to welfare recipients WORKANDTHEPOVERTYTRAP The Aid to Families with Depen d ent Children (AFDC) rogram constitutes the heart of America's welfare system. Currentl it sup orts over half o Y the 6 million female-headed women currently on welfare rolls, near f y two-thirds can be expected to rfmain on welfare long-term welfare recip i ents. Nearly two-thirds of all mothers on AFDC ave birt 1 to at least one child while a teenaeer. Such families are likely to spend a deca di e or longer on responsibility, self-support, and work that form the foundation o I the successful kerican poverty . The same is true o B female-headed families, historically one of the poorest families with children in the U.S le A$DC is often depicted as a temporaq relief program, the facts show otheNvise--intermittent but prolonged welfare dependence is the norm for mothers on welfare. Among women entermg the welfare rolls for the first time, 70 percent remain for two years or lon er; the average stay is six and a half years. Among for eight years or more and the average period on welfare is 11.6 years.

Young mothers who have never been married are especially prone to becomin welfare. This means that their children grow up in homes lackin those ideas of ersonal family. When they reach adulthood, these children often have difficul adjusting to the demands of work and t o the realities of personal and parental responsi x ility for climbin out of poverty. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. families without a parent at work are poor y contrast, amon famdies whose head works full time, only 4 percent are in segments of socjety: les s than one in ten such families remain in poverty if the mother works full time Inverse Relationship. Work, not welfare, it is now widely agreed, is the essential ladder This inverse relationship between work and poverty for years prompted conservatives to argue for a work requirement to be attached to welfare benefits. In recent years, many liberals have joined the chorus for workfare simply pushes women into low paying is untrue. In every state, a mother with remaining welfare benefits still enough income to lift the average AFDC poverty level. In states with 'i famil (one mother an enerous bene H ts, such as California, a minimum wage job combined with available we fare will lift 1. David Ellwood, Tawetine "Would-Be" Lone-Term Recibients of AFDC (Washingt on, D.C Department of Health and Human Services, January 1986 p. 5 2 Poverty is defined as income less than the offid Bureau of the Census poverty thresholds. A family of three was considered poor with an income of S8,277 in 19

84. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census Characte ristics of the Pmulation Below the Povertv kve 1:19&4, Series P-60, No. 152 (Washington, D.C Government Printing Office, June l!M), Table

4. Money income only is considered; the number of poor families with working moth ers would be considerably less if noncash benefits were included 2the family's income nearly 50 percent above the overty line? Few women working steadily moreover, earn only the minimum wage; the me ian pual wa e for full-time female workers without a hi

school degree is now $10,436; the annu minimum wage is $6,968 ARE THERE ENOUGH JOBS f 8 An explanation commonly offered for why women on welfare do not work is an ostensible lack of jobs for the unskilled, unemployed poor. All evidence points to the cont r ary. For one thin the United Sptes apparently employs as many as 10 million illegal aliens, mostly in ent Eve1 positions. For another thing, the sexvice sector is the fastest growin segment of x- e economy, and offers jobs for all mcome and skill levels. I n enormous job opportunities for low-skille workers. B parti clpi ar, the hotel, restaurant, retail, hos ital, and entertainment industries offer areas. In his 1982 book The U nderclm journalist ice n Auletta interviewed Melvin them. Except perhaps in ver y depressed areas, such as Appalachia, wor k is availa i: le to take those jobs that are availab Y8 e. For example, one study of AFDC mothers in t K e M&st welfare administrators, in fact, confirm that 'obs are available, even in urban Rosen, vice presiden t of the Wildcat Traimng Center, a well-known supported-work program center in the late 1970s. Says Rosen Anybody who wants to work-eyen if he's unqualified-he can get a job. Motivation is much more important than skills." Surveys also skew that most of th e poor admit that they can find minimum wage 'obs if the want Refhsing Available Jobs. The r blem is not a lack of jobs but the refusal of man poor 3. For example, in Alabama, in 1986, a mother with two children would also receive food stamps, earned incom e tax credits, school lunch subsidies for each child in school and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) fund subsidies for children under h. Total income less federal taxes would be in the $9,0 range. The poverty level for a family of three in 1986 was $8,5

70. In California a minimum wage job, plus AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, earn& income tax credits, school lunch subsidies, WIC, less taxes would equal $13,284 for a family of three in 19

86. For a mother with small child ren the cost of child care should also be considered, for eligiile mothers on AFDC the government will pay up to $160 per month per child for day care costs, but a mother earning minimum wage would not be eligible in all states. Problems relating to welfa r e and child care will be discussed in a subsequent Heritage Foundation study 4. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Monev Income of Households. Families and Persons in the United St&g 1984 Series Pa, No. 151 (Washington, D.C.: Government Pr i nting Office, April 1986 p. 134 5. Edwh P. Reubens Aliens, Jobs and Immigration Policy The Public Interest Spring, 1978 6. Lawrence M. Mead, The Work Problem in Welfare unpublished manuscript prepared for the Working Seminar on the Family and American Wel f are Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, 1986 p. 5 7. Ken Auletta, The Underclass (New York Random House, 1982 p. 201 8. Joel F. Handler and Ellen June Hollingsworth, nn fW If dmini tr ti n (New York Academic Press, 1971 p.182 9. Recently a ghetto r e novation project in Newark, New Jersey, an area of long-term severe unemployment, could not attract local labor at $5.00 to $6.00 per hour. The problem was solved by bringing in union workers from the suburbs. Myron Magnet America's Underdass: What to Do Fortune, May 1% 1987, p. 132 3 0.

Work Incentive (WIN) Program found that, although the mothers claimed that they wanted to work 70 percent had turned down jobs for which they were qualified, such as nurses aides, domestics, or waitresses. Notes the study The jobs that most respondents appeared to want clearly required extensive training-jobs as dieticians medical technicians, stenographers, counselors, and the like In general, they expressed distinct dislike for the menial jobs often held by unskilled bla ck women. For example, more than 90 percent said that they would not want to do private household work Almost all were looking to WIN to provide them with the education and training necessary to obtain and perform the jobs they wanted.

Even when they had received WIN training, very few of these welfare mothers were able to move into higher skilled jobs.

The lesson from these and scores of similar examples is that, when welfare eliminates the necessity of holding down a job to su port the family, welfare ca n foster an unrealistic attitude toward jobs among the poor. dst welfare mothers have held jobs intermittently in the past. Their roblem is not unemplo ability but a lack of long-term commitment to work attitude I at cripples their strud e toward self-suf f iciency THE HISTORY OF WORKFARE Workfare may have become this ear's welfare buzzword, but it has been art of the welfare debate for many years. In 1 x 62 the Community Work and Training P rogram CWTP) permitted states to require work from AFDC recipients i n return for their benefits. Onl 13 states, however, articipated in the rogram, and its authorization to provide welfare recipients with an incentive to obtain wor was a 100 percent tax on mone earned by working. WIN sought to provide an incentive Under d t he welfare recipient could keep the first 0 of monthly eamings and one-third of the rest of earned income without a reduction in welfare benefits. WIN legislation also provided vocational training funds and a 5vork test under which welfare agencies could r e uire AFDC recipients to participate in WIN programs or face a loss of Shielding Welfare Recipients. The work test, however, was largely symbolic. Local welfare agencies were empowered to determine which recipients were em loyable and thus who denounced work as "slavefare During the first 21 months of the WIN rogram, the the program expired in 19 B

7. In that year, the &ork Incentive proram was enacted by Congress Before WIN, each dollar earned meant welfare was reduced by a dollar. In effect, this f for work b ermitting the we 9 are recipient to retain a eater portion of earned income part of their bene 'g ts subject to WIN partici abon. Welfare departments in large cities shielde B nearly all of then AFDC caseload E om WIN requirements, with the suppor t of lvelfare rights" groups nation's welfwe rolls swelled by 641,OOO, and only 13,000 Americans left we E are because of 10. Quoted in, Lawrence M. Mead, Bevond Entitlement: The Sou 'al Obliitions of Citizenship (New York The Free Press, 1986 p. 153 11 p. 122 4As AFDC families nearly doubled in number between 1967 and 1970, rising congressional concern led to the 1971 assage of the Talmadge amendments to the AFDC was shifted from "career enhancement" to immediate job placement. Classroom education long fav o red by the-WIN bureaucracy was reduced in favor of more effective job search strategies and on-the-job training In the first ea under the new rules, the annual job placement rate nearly doubled reachin 137 But still the work requirement remained largely s y mbohc, and despite the mar ed improvement in registrations, actual participation levels remained low Decreasing Welfare Rolls. Durin the 1970s, work ro ams made little progress s focus provisions of the Social Securi Act. d tates for the first time were r e quired to re 'ster in the WIN program all nondisab 'r ed mothers who had no children under age six Governor Ronald Reagan initiated t fi e Community drkkerience Program in ants. Althou the rogram produced significant B ecreases in welfare rolls, it was Bo c ked by the ea .S. epartment of Health, Education and Welfare, which argued that the California in 1971, but hostility in the state legislature and resistance b the welfare bureaucracy prevented the program from being fully implemented, an B it was elimina t ed by Reagan's successor. Workfare was also introduced in Utah. There, welfare mothers with chldren over age six were required to perform ublic service work for their welfare program was illegal. Utah chose to continue without federal AFDC funds for nearl y two years rather than abandon its program workfare took a back seat to more traditional welfare state policies. These state initiatives were the exception. For the most part, thrpgh the 1970s THE 1981 BUDGET ACT The Reagan residency brou t ke changes in w elfare policy through the Omnibus incentives or "disregards permitting welfare reapients to retain the first $30 of earnings er month and one-third of additional earnings wthout a reduction in welfare benefits bespite dire warnings that women would quit t h eir jobs and return to welfare, the rolls actually shrank 1970s. Specifically, OBRA established three workfare programs 1) The WIN Demonstration propam. In it, adult AFDC beneficiarief4may be required by the state to participate full time 111 work program s for up to 13 weeks 2) The Community Work Experience Program or CWEP In it, a welfare recipient can be required to partia ate in workfare or other job-related activities ermanently, but the Participants in CWEP cannot work for less than the minimum wage. T he maximum Budget Reconci P iation Act of 19 Pi 1 (0 RA In particular, OBRA eliminated the OBRA also resuscitated workfare policies that had been declared unlawful during the 0 number of hours wor P ed per month is limited and is often less than 0 hours p er week 12 up. 1

23. L

13. Charles S. Rodgers Work Tests for Welfare Recipients: the Gap between the Goal and Reality J Analvsis and Manaeement Fall 1981 14. Duration of partiupation in WIN Demonstration is subject to the same restrictions as the traditional WIN program.

Time spent in training, however, is not restricted 50 number of hours of work per week is calculated by dividing the value of the AFDC grant by the minimum wage 3) The Grant Diversion program, which also is known as wage sup lementation. In it, the recipient's welfare ant is "diverted" to a private employer to pay P or up to half of the recipient's wage. A we B are recipient's participation in grant diversion is limited to nine months or less.

Welfare mothers with children under age six generall are exempt from work requirements, although 11 states have obtained waivers !r om federal rules tomake Reagan Administration re eatedly f ut unsu~~sfully has sou& legislation to make all participation mandatory for AFDC mothers with children Over age three. Noncompliance with work requirements can result in a tem orary small reduction of the AFDC grant. Infi 1985, some 5 percent of all participants un B er these programs were penalized in this way states enforce a broad AFbC work obligation TYPES OF WORKF'ARE ACTIVITIES No state is actually required to o erate these new workfare rograms, although the hirty-ei

t states have adopted new work programs under the OBRA provisions 1) Traditional Workfare or Work Experience. In return for welfare benefits, recipients Welfare reapients may be placed in five basic types of activity work part time or full time for government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Work expenence is also intended to impart or maintain basic job skills relating to attitude appeara n ce, responsibility, and bmeliness 2) Job Search Propams provide guidance for welfare recipients seeking employment and reinforce job seelung efforts. In a '$roup job search program, for example, an individual may receive one week's trainmg on how to obtai n a job. This may be followed by three weeks of participation in a phone bank where recipients report to the welfare office and explore job openinp Over the hone under the management and encouragement job search 3) Education and Training. This includes rem e dial instruction, vocational education on-the-job training and, in some cases, even postsecondary education 4) Supported Work. This provides a sheltered wmksho designed to ease the transition of less employable welfare recipients into the workplace. iequi r ements concernin4 productiwty, tardiness, absenteeism, and other behavior are gradually raised over mne months to one year in the workshop, while extensive training and counseling are provided 5) Subsidized Employment Through ant diversion, welfare funds s ubsidize initial of a supervisor. These activibes may be P ollowed by two months of monitored individual employment in the private sector. The su f sidized private sector position will often provide on-the-job-training 15. US. General AccoUnting Offia+ Wo r k and Welfare (Washington, D.C Government Printing Officq January 1987),p. 56 16. States that have not established work programs under the OBRA provisions operate traditional WIN programs 6move recipients through a sequence of these activities, such as Bu t job search is by far the most common form of Office reports that in 1985, over 80 percent of new work in job search, 10 percent in education and training, and THE CONFLICI'ING OBJECTIVES OF WORKFARE A diversity of policy goals exist under the general rub r ic of workfare. Among them 1) Reducing welfare rolls and cutting the welfare costs 2) Ensuring that the adult welfare beneficiary contributes some service to society in return for benefits received, thereby establishing the idea of a bond of mutual obliga t ion in place of a handout 3) Helping welfare recipients find private sector employment 4) Enhancing the occupational opportunities available to welfare recipients, providing the poor with skills that will enable them to move from low paying jobs into high er skilled higher paying positions.

The first three oals often complement each other. Example: job search programs that E help the recipient ind employment also reduce the welfare rolls. Similar1 , a work welfare rolls simply by making we P fare less desir able administrative costs and c K ild care expenses.

Some conservatives tend to be more concerned wi tgtl the e id and behaworal problems government outlays as quic kl y as possible experience program provides both the means for the recipient to "pay bac society and the basic skills that will make the reci ient more employable. And it also may reduce the On the other hand, these first three goals may conflict. A rigorous work experience program, for instance, ma cost far more than a plain welfare package b ecause of increased The differing goals reflect an underlying philoso hid s lit even amone conservatives associated with welfare and are willing to ay more into the welfare system if it will enforce a serious work obligation. B contrast, ot&r conservative s mainly want to reduce Hijacking Workfare,The fourth goal is the most ambitious and conflicts with the others.

Attemptin6 to train welfare reci ients for skilled jobs is seen by many workfare supporters reduction, and because of the expense, may limit the number of recipients who can participate. Controversy over this goal represents a major liberal/conservative split on welfare policy.

Many conservatives claim that liberal su porters of increased welfare spending have simply hij acked the term "workfare" to justit traditional and ineffective social service pohcies as impractical and as a misuse o F the term workfare. It conflicts with ~oals of cost 17. General AccoUnting Office, Work and Welfare p.

70. The figures in the above t ext are derived from Table 4.2 18. Mead, Bevond Entitlement pp. 91-119 7THE "NO MENIAL JOBS" TRAP In the current political debate, the 1970s liberal slogan of "workfare is slavefare" has given way in many circles to the "no menial jobs" argument. Recent c o nverts to workfare claim to favor work but add the caveat that welfare recipients not be required to take menial, dead end jobs. Their conclusion: the government should train welfare recipients for "good jobs" with higher skills and hi er ay. In reality, t herefore, the op osition to a serious work requirement continues e is supported only if it means illions of dollars in new federal programs for unproductive traming in moving disadvanta ed workers into more skilled positions. To the extent that government trainin fas any positive effect, it is by 1 creasing the amount of work performed and not y increasing hourly wage rates. %raining may enable or encourage welfare recipients to obtain jobs, to work more hours, and to stay employed for longer periods, but i t does not enable them to obtain higher quality jobs than they would have obtained otherwise Most evaluations of such expensive government training find it to be largely ineffective Reinforcing Dependency. Costly trainin which promises 'I ood jobs often t u rns out to do little more than postpone entry into the f abor market. Wh' d e poor Americans accepting low-paying, entry-level jobs will often move into better paying jobs over time, government training does not appear to speed this process significantly.

The "no menial jobs" approach, moreover, reinforces dependency, sincewelfare recipients are told that they should not have to take unpleasant entry-level jobs. Rather than taking practical steps to support themselves, they are informed that they should wa it passively for society to care for them: by providing training, incentives, and "good jobs.

Effective workfare requires the op osite approach. Studies by Lawrence Mead professor of political science at New B ork University, reveal that welfare recipient s informing them that t K ey are not helpless dependents, but instead are normal members o communication of e ectations and o r ligation is t E e most im ortant factor in increasing respond very favorabl to authoritative social messages, which "empower" t h e recipients b the community capable of work with the same social responsibility to support themselves as everyone else. Mead's statistical anal is of work rograms demonstrates that the clear employment amongxe poor. It is more important, writes dad, than the labor mat'ket financial incentives, training, or welfare office staffing levels.

LIMITS OF EXISTING WORK PROGRAMS Workfare is by no means a panacea for the problems of welfare. Some programs donot work at all, and most only have a marginal, albeit use ful, effect. In the 38 states that have 19. Jean Grossman and Audrey Mi, 2 A S f ecentP Debendency (Princeton, New Jersey Mathematica Policy Research Inc April 1985 pp. 17,U. Jean Grossman, Rebecca Maynard, and Judith Roberts, Reanahis of the Effects of S elected Emdome n t a ndTr a inin P Pr om am s for Welfare Recibients (Princeton, New Jersey Mathematica Policy Research Inc October, 1985 pp. 67,73.

Congressional Budget Office, W r f rA ul (Washington,D.C Government Printing Office, lm p. XVII 20. Mead, B evond Entitlement, QD. at, pp. 148-169 8instituted new work programs since 1981, approxiqately 20 percent of the adult AFDC population were enrolled in the programs in 19

85. Many of these pro am are limited or registered in work pro ams actively participate. Even when they do, participation is percent usually temrY of e a ult AFDC rolls actwely participate in a work program in any given month.

The impact of these pro ams is also limited. Even if the most successful program were operated on a nab0 3 basis , they would: 1) reduce the total AFDC o ulation between 1 percent and 6 percent depending on the design of the programy reduce welfare payments betweeg and 8 percent; and 3) increase em loyment among recipients between 4 and 50 percent. These programs co s t between $309 and $700 per partiapant to operate and recoveetheir costs within one to two years. Less effective programs fail to recover their costs experimental. Moreover, recent studies indicate that not all of the we f are recipients sel ir om exceedi n g 13 weeks in a year. It is likely that no more than 4 Greatest Impact. The effective programs seem to have their greatest impact among harder to employ recipients, such as those without recent employment experience. Although the available evidence is ske t chy, pro ams offering job search and work which offer trainin combined with other activities. A critical question, yet unanswered, is permanent and full time and if penalties for nonparticipation were intensified THE DANGERS OF A WORKF'ARE BOONDOGGLE expe r ience appear to be more cost effective an 8 hage a greater impact than programs how much more e d ective work programs might be if work obligations were made As noted, workfare means different things to different people. The glue holdin the Thus it may be unrealistic to e ect workfare to reduce welfare costs. In fact, the potential of "workfare" rograms for sw 3 owing up funds without producing any noticeable results is enormous. de widely acclaimed supported-work programs of the late 1970s cost about stat e "workfare consensus" together often seems to be the prospect of more feder af dollars 21. General Aecounthg Office, Work and Welfare, PD. at, pp. 52-

54. This figure represents only states with WIN Demonstration programs 22. The employment figure reflect s very low rates of initial employment, and much of the added employment would be part-time e 23. Successful programs that haw been evaluated by controlled experiments include job search and/or work experience in San Diego; Little Rock, Arkansas, Washingt o n State; and North Carolina. Hall Nelson, Evaluation of the p m (Washington State Department of Social and Human Services, Report XO6-23 Fin al Assessment of the Communitv Work berience Pronram D e m o nsr t at i on Pr ole &NorthCarolina Department of Hum a n Resources, Division of Social Servica, Planning and Information Section, mimeo, March 1 1985 Barbara Goldman Califda: F m al R ewrt on the San Dieeo Job Searc hn a d Wo r k -ne 'n ce New York Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, 1985 Daniel Frie d lander gt al Arkansas n i (New York Manpower Dembtration Research Corporation Proeram Fin al Rewrt on the Work Proeram in Two Cou t es 1985 24. Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation studies show that job search in Arkansas and job search and work ex p erience in San Diego had greater effects on employment and welfare reduction and were more cost effedive than programs in Maryland and Virginia that included training, On the other hand, a pure workfare program in West Vi operated in a period of high unem p loyment and without the intent of reducing welfare had no significant impact on employment or welfare rolls 9- $26,OOO per participant (measured in 1987 dollars) but produced no greater results in employment and earnings than current job search programs c o sting a few hundred dollarsz ent and training programs for the disadvantaged have very seldom been EmplT cost-e ective for the taxpayer, but nonetheless continue to be vigorously promoted widely raised since it be an in 198yfl but its results E ave been d i sappointing Massac usetts state emp B oyment and trainin costs have increased by 400 percent since the Similarly, Massachusett's Emplo ent Training rogram, kaown as "ET has been program started while welfare rolls actually ave risen. And this comes at a t i me when the state's economy has been booming. Moreover, the precise effects of ET cannot be assessed because the state has refused to permit controlled experiments. Some of ETs publicized success stories in fact, include mdividuals who quit decent jobs to receive costly and eitensive training for better paying positions Suspicious Converts. Calls for additional spending by those who have traditionally resisted work obli ations, but are now converts to workfare should be viewed very Through ork (GRO by welf a re beneficiaries in all states and provides, for the first time, uncapped supportin suspicious On iB, e other hand, the Reagan Administration's Greater Opportunities misdirected training 3 at it does do is require large-scale participation in work activit i es federal funds for 'ob search and workfare administration, job-related expenses, and chil care. These fun d s would be provided at a 50 percent matching rate with the states proposal makes sense. It refuses to provide extra funds for STRENGTHENING THE W O RK PROGRAMS If Congress is serious about strenqhening work programs and attacking welfare de endency, it should begin by perrmtting states to establish permanent full time work the CWEP program and duration of participation in WIN Demonstration programs s h ould be eliminated ob P igations in return for welfare benefits. Current restrictions on full time participation in States should be permitted to require articipation by welfare recipients in job se,arch receives benefits. If the restriction that recipien t s should not be required to work for less than the hourly minimum wage rate is maintained, then the entire welfare package should be included in the calculation-of hourly wages-AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, school lunch rograms, Women, Infants, and Childre n (WIC) food subsidies, and housing subsi 2 ies. This would permit full-time work in most circumstances. Ironically, some current welfare reform proposals such as H.R. 1720 introduced in the House of Representatives by Harold Ford, the Tennessee Democrat, w hile claiming to favor work actually continue restrictions on work and job search activities work experience, or training for up to 40 K ours per week for as long as an individual 25. For example, Job Search in Arkansas and Job Search/Work Experience in S a n Diego had as great or greater impact on employment than did the supported-work program after subsidized employment ended (months 19-27 This comparison is based on hard to employ groups (e AFDC recipients as opposed to applicants in Arkansas and persons w ith no recent job experience in San Diego). Although AFDC participants in supported-work programs were allegedly "hard-core" dependents, they were in fact all volunteers to the program Both experimentah and controls in supported work seem more employable than involuntary participants in San Diego and Arkansas. See Robinson G. Hollester Jr. a al pprted Work De monstration USA: University of Wisconsin Press, lW table 4.

6. See Goldman table 3.9 and Friedlander, a table 55 26. GrossmanaadMirslry,g cit,p. 111 10- 0.

Crippling Work Strategies. A second suggested approach to promoting work is to provide incentives Work pro ams involve costs for administration, child care, basic training, and other resulting from emplo would make many workfare programs economical ly infeasible restoring the "earriingS disregards" eliminated in 19

81. This would be a mistake. Reestab 7 ishing "earnings disregards" would cripple existing work strategies services. B tate governments normally recoup these costs by welfare cost reducti ons of welfare benefits w E e worbg disregards" significantly reduce welfare savings and thus demonstrates at incentives for we d are mothers to ent. By permitting welfare recipients to keep a greater percentage The lack of owth in welfare rolls women to r emain CONCLUSION the abolition of "disre ards" in 1981 obtain employment. otherwise self-supporting Reestablishing disregards their earned income by 5 to 10 percent y of three now on AFDC receives nearly $9,0oO er year in combined be considered unreasonab l e to expect a mother on welfare to do some land of work, job search, or trainin in return for these benefits. Although once denounced as "slavefare has gained widespread acceptance welfare The bene ts. f;ru' In a society where a majority of mothers work a n B pay taxes, it should not the idea that we d are should be based on a mutual obligation rather than one-way handouts The current we 9 are system based on one-way handouts actually harms theF by Certainly the roblem of the poor cannot be solved simply by giving them more money removing the normal obligation to support self and family that serves as a oundauon for the lives of all other Americans, welfare undermines the personal discipline needed for work and for participation in mainstream socie It foster s unrealistic and self-defeating passed on to future generations. ∨&e--by restoring the adult welfare beneficiary's obligation to contribute to his or her own self-su ort is not only fair to the rest of attitudes about self-support amon the oor an !K- a t olerance for dependency, which is society-it is essential to the well-being of the we PP are recipient and his or her family reform. Far from transforming the existing we s are state into a workfare state, the scope of expan d ed rapidly Still there is co n siderable debate over the practical goals of workfare and the effectiveness of current work programs. In expanding workfare a number of principles should be borhe in mind. Among them 1) Workfare is one small, albeit useful, com onent of an overall strateg y of welfare exktin work programs is extremely limited and these programs are unlikely to be 2) Workfare is unlikely to produce dramatic reductions in the welfare rolls or in welfare costs. Because of administrative and child care expenses, a large-scale w orkfare system may cost as much or slightly more than the existing welfare system 27. The average welfare benefits

we represents a family of three and includes AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, school lunch subsidies, and/or WIC 11 8 3) Removing existing restr ictions that prohibit states from establishing permanent full-time work requirements for adult recipients would increase the effectiveness of work programs considerably. But it is uncertain, again, whether this change would result in dramatic reductions i n welfare costs 4) Worlbare will be most effective when its oal is not to produce welfare sa reduce dependency and to enforce the bond o B mutual obligation between the we YP are but to yUe" denipating so-de B low-skill, P ead end jobs for which many of th e poor are and wor P experience will prove more effective than elaborate training m uprooting smokescreen to advance an expansion of P e traditional we 9 are state. Particularly dependency. Workfare shoul B not be oversold, but it shoul B be expanded in a p rudent recipient and society to place welfare reci ients in hi er skilled, "better" jobs have seldom been effective. By trhg roponents actually discourage realistic efforts toward self-support. ob search dependency H.R. 1720) and proposed by Senator Mo an , use the PO ularity of workfare as a important are proposals to raise benefit levels and to force states to erect an AFDC pro am for two-parent families. These proposals would actually increase dependen ad80 the number of female-headed families in tht#J.S the negative effects would ar outweigh any gains from an expansion of workfare 5) Conflict over the basic objectives of workfare remains. Training programs that seek 6) Current welfare mform measures, such as those introduced by Congressman Ford Yand Work fare remains an indis ensable tool for tackling the roblems of welfare cost-effective manner.

Robert Rector Policy Analyst Peter T. Butterfield Research Assistant c 28. This topic will be dkussed more fully in a forthcoming study by The Heritage Foundiitio 12-


Robert Rector
Robert Rector

Senior Research Fellow