Chapter

Welfare in the United States

Michael Wiseman

in The welfare we want?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9781861344083
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303992 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861344083.003.0002
Welfare in the United States

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Welfare, in the US sense, refers to means-tested cash assistance or its equivalent, and often to just one programme: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is received mostly by single parents. The 2002 US welfare reform debate reached beyond TANF only in including the Food Stamp Program, which was addressed in the 2002 Farm Bill. This chapter reviews the American social assistance system, its recent history, the changes brought about by PRWORA, and the debate over reauthorisation. PRWORA ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children programme and replaced it with a block grant to states' TANF. The chapter takes account of Supplemental Security Income, the Earned Income Credit, and the myriad general assistance programmes operated by states or local governments to provide income of last resort to those not qualifying for other benefits. It argues that the impact of TANF reform on both families and institutions has been substantially overstated, and that reauthorisation is expected to leave many key problems unaddressed, such as provision of funding, integration of multiple programmes, assessing programme performance assessment, and building systems for translating experience into useful management information.

Keywords: welfare; US; social assistance; single parent; benefit

Chapter.  16454 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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