The Effects of Welfare Reform in The United States

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Words: 1563 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 1563|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Five studies have been used to study the adverse effects of welfare reform and the status quo in the United States of America. Inherently, welfare reform could be a racially charged subject. The studies chosen for this research article try to use objective tools to see the positive or negative effects of welfare resources such as TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, and SSI. I will explore different schools of thought concerning income equality, welfare policies, and if it exacerbated the socio-economic disparity between the racial spectrum.

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One of the five articles titled, “The Racial Structure of Inequality: Consequences for Welfare Policy in the United States,' expounds on how on income inequality and governmental policies are contingent on the racial structure. The retribution of welfare resources could me skewed against a minority group. There are numerous variables on why there is income inequality in the United States of America. One reason is that every state in the country may have different standards on how issue public resources to a low-income household. The article formulated reasons why the redistribution of welfare does not favor minority groups. The article proposed a theory called a “group threat or racial threat”. The majority group perceives the racial threat as the opposition. Therefore, the majority group will mandate a standard for all minority groups to adhere. The majority group, or the privilege group entertained the notion of a “paternalistic” prerequisite for the impoverished household.

Apparently, this measure is designed to deprive the minority group of substantial aid from the government. The majority group understands that a large segment of the minority group lacks a paternal figure in the household. Consequently, a minority group will experience less or zero welfare retribution. The motive of this policy is because of xenophobic attitudes towards the minority group.

An additional theory proposed from the first article is called social affinity. Affinity could be defined as a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone. In other words, I call this subtle discrimination. This is a supplementary reason there is inequality in America. Another word for social affinity is nepotism. Nepotism is a phenomenon felt throughout our lives and can alter how we allocate welfare to other racial groups in the spectrum.

The second article titled, “Economic well-being of low-income single-mother families following welfare reform in the USA,' expounds how there is a disparity since the inception of the 1994 reform of welfare. The data used was collected by the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the US Census Bureau. The sample size of the study consisted of 5,327 low income mothers or 200% below the poverty line in the United States, and the sample size for high-income mothers or 200% above the poverty line illustrated a striking reality. There are several programs designed to treat the same socio-economic pathology. For instance, there is Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). A distinctive shortcoming of other studies is that it is using different variables to characterize the income of single mothers since the 1994 welfare reform. In this study, we are looking for the net disposable income for single mothers; which mean after tax reduction, childcare cost, etc. Since welfare reform the caseload of recipients fell from 5 million to 2.5 million, this event is attributed to the growth of new job opportunities but not lead to increase income. The dataset we are working with include the years 1993, 1994, 1997, and 2002. The ages are from 18 to 54, and the sample size consist of 7,891 single mothers. The single mothers that fall under 200% below poverty line comprise 48.1% white, 23.9% black, and 21.4% Hispanic. Additionally, the single mothers that fall above the 200% poverty line comprise 70.4% white, 13.7% black, and 12.3% Hispanic. The researchers stated, “The overall total income of single-mother families with children grew after the 1996 welfare reform. However, closer look at these finding reveals that the average low-income family was worse off in 2002 than in 1993”.

Finally, net disposable income increased by 19 percent since the inception of the 1996 reform. Low income mothers did notice a significant increase in employment, but it was undermined by childcare cost, and loss of benefits, hence their net income declined. The researchers stated, “These findings reveal that many single mothers moved from welfare poor to working poor”. Contrary to the single mothers who are 200% above the poverty line, they experience a rise in net disposable income and tax expenditure decreased. According to the study, low income mothers spent 30.3 percent of their income on children care cost; their counterparts spent 8.1% on children care cost.

The third article titled, “to help or to harm? Food Stamp Receipt and mortality Risk Prior to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act,' attempts to evaluate the impact of the food stamp program on the mortality rate. The study was conducted before the 1996 welfare act. The food stamp program was administered based on national standards. One of the perceived shortcomings was that the food stamp program would be a disincentive to participants who aspire to increase their income or achieve vertical social mobility.

The food stamp program is responsible for allocating funds to be administered to the socioeconomically disadvantaged citizen. 23.7 billion dollars are allocated to be redistributed to 27.5 million participants in 1994. The researchers used the Family Resources Supplement (FRS) with National Health Interview Survey for the years of 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994. The criteria to be a considered a participant or recipient of this aid was not exceeding a gross income of 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. Additionally, only adults between the ages of 18 to 59 years participated in the study. The data set comprised of 79,096 eligible individuals, 17,488 were the participants and 61,608 were the non-participants.

Biopsychosocial relation of the food stamp program has adverse effects. Participants of the food stamp program would be an incentive for participants to work less or not work at all to continue to receive aid from the federal government. Participants often experience a stigma of receiving food stamps, hence falling into a deep depression because they are not meeting societal norms of self-sufficiency or financial security. This hate could lead to risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug use, thus increase the mortality rate. Additionally, it is very stressful to handle bureaucracy within the Food Stamp Program; it is very intrusive to have members of the federal government prying into your life. Finally, the participants may use the aid inappropriately for high processed food that has no nutritional value; also detrimental to the mortality rate.

The fourth article titled,” Welfare reform and the subjective well-being of single mothers.'.” Utilizing subjective tools to measure the happiness of low-income single mothers after welfare reform is dubious. During 1996, the PRWORA mandate saw positive reverberations for these low-income mothers. Many of mothers became employed, and the welfare caseloads did see a rapid decrease. This study has redundant empirical data, and the subjective methods used are not universal in any research context. I digress.

The fifth article titled,” Impact of the 1996 Welfare Reform on Child and Family Well-being,” examine the adverse effects of the 1996 welfare reform or PRWORA. This new standard altered the role low income mothers play in their household, and the connection they have with their children. The data set was collected by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The sample size consisted of 1,681 single mothers living on poverty.

The biopsychosocial aspect of this study is evident; The caseload of welfare recipients might have decreased but the socioeconomic stratum was stagnated. We saw that the participants of the study worked more hours during the post welfare reform era and participated in the labor force. The underlying issue was not the lack of available jobs in the market, but rather the low-income single mother did not have the essential skills to participate in the competitive market. During the pre-welfare period, the single low-income mother participated less in the job market, hence had less net disposable income. After the 1996, welfare reform or PRWORA low come mothers worked more hours but received low pay, thus their quality of life did not improve. Another adverse effect since the inception of welfare reform was the lack of time the mothers spent with their children. The article stated,” An increase in the number of working hours may also impact parenting skills. Mothers working more hours on the job have less time available to care for their children. Improved developmental outcomes for children are associated with being raised in nurturing home environments”.

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The author purposed three questions; “Did poor single mothers have better economic well-being and provide a more positive home environment in the post-welfare reform than in 1994 pre-welfare reform? Did these differences between pre- and post-welfare reform have any association with maternal educational levels? Did the economic well-being and status of the home environment affect children develop-mental development?”. The main limit or shortcoming concerning welfare reform was that it did not prioritize the pursuit of higher education or attain vertical social mobility. Instead, welfare reform simply encouraged former welfare recipients to work more hours regardless if it is the same low pay. It should be a prerequisite for low income single mothers to acquire a skill, or a competitive college degree to participate in our free market economy.

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The Effects Of Welfare Reform In The United States. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
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