Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Welfare reform not working

Here, courtesy of RCP, is an op-ed contending that the 1996 welfare reform hasn’t succeeded in breaking the cycle of impoverishing behavior. The problem, Penn law professor Amy Wax contends, is that the cultural norms that would encourage responsibility are missing. Here’s her conclusion:

Congress’ hope that reforming welfare to demand work would reverse family decline was a fantasy because mandated work is a half-measure. Economic outcomes depend critically on interpersonal behavior. Enforcing demands in one realm but not the other has yielded a social universe divided in two.


There’s no question that marriage still protects, as social scientists such as Robert Lerman have shown. Those who live by the old values largely avoid poverty and enhance their children’s chances of success.


In contrast, those who accept our invitation to abandon those values make up an ever-larger presence. Deprived of what money can’t buy — attentive residential fathers, stable homes and orderly lives — their children have a harder time competing with the rest of us. Welfare reform does not change that and never will.

Read the whole thing.

Discussions - 1 Comment

Oh, I don’t know, last I heard there were lots more welfare recipients at work, and births to teenage (unwed) mothers had declined. I wonder if she’s just not shooting from the hip here.

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