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Social Welfare II: The Politics of Welfare Reform · “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy,” Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, (June 1993).

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Social Welfare II: The Politics of Welfare Reform

· “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy,” Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, (June 1993).

· “Race Coding" and White Opposition to Welfare,” Martin Gilens. The American Political Science Review (Sep., 1996).

· “Setting the Terms of Relief: Explaining State Policy Choices in the Devolution Revolution,” Joe Soss; Sanford F. Schram; Thomas P. Vartanian; Erin O'Brien American Journal of Political Science, (Apr., 2001).


Explaining welfare retrenchment an examination of alternative theories of welfare provision l.jpg
Explaining Welfare Retrenchment: An Examination of Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


Welfare l.jpg
“Welfare” Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) 1935-1996

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 1996-present


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The Decline in Welfare Benefit Levels over Time Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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The Decline in Welfare Benefit Levels over Time Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Welfare Reform Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Significant changes in program requirements

    • Work requirements

    • Cooperation in paternity determination/child support

    • Sanctions for noncompliance

    • Family Cap

    • Time limits


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A Puzzle? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • What has caused these dramatic changes in welfare provision in the U.S.?


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Traditional Theories of Welfare State Development Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Accumulation of Knowledge

    • role of knowledge, information in the development of social welfare policy

    • as we have learned more about the scope and permanence of poverty, social welfare effort has increased


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Traditional Theories of Welfare State Development Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Evolution of Citizenship (T.H. Marshall)

    • definition of “citizenship” inevitably proceeds through stages

      • Civil - basic freedoms and rights

      • Political - political enfranchisement

      • Social - broad range of socioeconomic rights


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Traditional Theories of Welfare State Development Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Modernization (Wilensky)

    • development of social welfare linked to industrialization

      • Social problems

      • Economic capacity


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Alternative Theories Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Fiscal Capacity

  • Partisan Control

  • Public Opinion/Ideology

  • The “Race to the Bottom”

  • The “Failure” of AFDC

  • “Racial Politics”


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What is the “Race to the Bottom” ? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • “Welfare Magnet” Hypothesis:

    • Predicts that poor persons will migrate from states with low welfare benefits to those with more generous welfare policies


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What is the “Race to the Bottom” ? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Benefit Competition Hypothesis:

    • Predicts that states regularly compete with surrounding states to offer the least generous welfare assistance to try to discourage poor people from moving to their state (and thus avoid becoming “welfare magnets)


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What is the “Race to the Bottom” ? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Benefit Competition Hypothesis:

    • Potentially explains differences between U.S. welfare state compared to other Western democracies

    • Leads to less than desirable benefit levels

    • Used to justify call for uniform benefit levels set be federal government

    • What about decline in welfare generosity over time within U.S.?


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What is the “Race to the Bottom” ? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Residency requirements

    • The race to the bottom began in earnest after the 1969 Supreme Court decision which declared residency requirements unconstitutional


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What is the “Race to the Bottom” ? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Is there a Race to the Bottom? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Is there a Race to the Bottom? Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Welfare magnet effect

    • Mixed evidence

  • Benefit competition effect

    • Most studies find a “neighbor effect”

    • Wide variation in magnitude of the effect

      • Decrease in neighbor benefit of $1 estimated to lead to decrease in a state’s benefit of anywhere between $.06 – $1.00

    • Not enough to explain most of the benefit decline

    • Can this explain welfare reform?


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The Racial Politics of Alternative Theories of Welfare ProvisionWelfare Retrenchment

  • Schneider and Ingram – Policy outputs a function of two important characteristics of the target population:

  • The social construction of the target population (Deserving vs. Undeserving)

  • The political power of the target population (weak vs. strong)


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The Racial Politics of Alternative Theories of Welfare ProvisionWelfare Retrenchment


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The Racial Politics of Alternative Theories of Welfare ProvisionWelfare Retrenchment

  • Social Constructions

    • Not all groups have a clear s.c.

    • Much of the politics of agenda setting concerns efforts to define and re-define prevailing social constructions of target populations

      • Often through re-defining the target population (example: Aids)


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Race and Support for Welfare: Alternative Theories of Welfare ProvisionThe Individual Level

  • Evidence suggests that two racial attitudes among whites interact to affect attitudes about welfare:

    • Race of the target

    • Stereotypes about black work ethic


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Race and Support for Welfare: Alternative Theories of Welfare ProvisionThe Individual Level

  • Evidence suggests that perceptions of the target population for welfare programs have changed over the last few decades

  • Negative stereotypes of black/minority work ethic remain widespread


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The Increasing Salience of Race Over Time (Gilens 2003) Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Survey Experiments and Race of the Target Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Avery and Peffley (2003)


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Survey Experiments and Race of the Target Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Avery and Peffley (2003)

  • The results consistently showed that respondents who viewed the black image were more likely to:

  • Blame the woman for her condition

  • Think that she is less likely to look for a new job.

  • Believe that most people could get by without welfare.


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Gilens (APSR 1996) Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Racial Politics and Welfare Policy Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Does this translate into public policy outcomes?

  • Does the percentage of welfare recipients that are black in a state lead to decreased welfare generosity in that state?


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Racial Politics and Welfare Policy Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Studies Finding a Relationship Between Racial Composition of Welfare Rolls and Welfare Benefits

    • Orr (1976)

    • Wright (1977)

    • Plotnick and Winters (1985)

    • Brown (1995)

    • Moffit, Ribar and Wilhelm (1998)

    • Howard (1999)

    • Bailey and Rom (2003)


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Racial Politics and Welfare Policy Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • Magnitude of Racial Effect (From 1995)

    • State A (Average State)

      • African-American % = 33%

      • Maximum (monthly) AFDC Benefit = $600

    • State B (High African American%)

      • African-American % = 83%

      • Maximum (monthly) AFDC Benefit = $400

    • State C (Low African American%)

      • African-American % = 1%

      • Maximum (monthly) AFDC Benefit = $728


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Racial Politics and Welfare Policy (Soss, et al. 2001) Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Racial Politics and Welfare Policy (Soss, et al. 2001) Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision


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Conclusions Alternative Theories of Welfare Provision

  • The effect of race raises important questions about the structure and future of U.S. public assistance

    • Desirability of devolution vs. national standards

    • Increasing “racialization” of welfare (significance of “social construction of target population”)

    • Debates over representation