New Article: Kaaryn Gustafson, Degradation Ceremonies and the Criminalization of Low-Income Women, 3 U.C. Irvine Law Review __ (forthcoming 2013). Abstract below:
This article, a call for both empirical social scientists and critical race theorists to engage with each other in careful interpretive analysis, applies sociologist Harold Garfinkel’s concept of ceremonial degradation to policies, practices, and proposals targeting low-income women of color in the United States. This article offers several examples of degradation ceremonies, including: excessive penalties and extrajudicial public shaming for women convicted of welfare fraud; mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients; high-publicity criminal prosecutions of mothers who violate school district residency requirements to enroll their children in more affluent schools; and tough criminal penalties for those who possess stolen infant formula or other necessities low-income Americans have difficulty obtaining. This article also describes some of the functions served by degradation ceremonies, including: the legitimation of material inequality, the perpetuation of social and economic myths, the policing of status quo distributions of property, and the satisfaction of the public’s emotional desire for sadomasochistic ritual. The article’s final section calls upon policy makers and scholars to acknowledge the degradation of low-income women that now occurs through policy and practice and offers broader suggestions for subverting the ceremonial degradation of the poor.
(Bad) Op-Ed of note: Nicholas D. Kristof, Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy, N.Y. Times, Dec. 7, 2012. And here is a response from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The nicest thing that can be said about the op-ed is that it covers a lot of ground . . .
Posted in Articles, Welfare
New Article: Udaya R Wagle, “Promoting Economic Security among Low Income Families in the United States: The Effects of Food Stamps on Labor Supply, Income, and Poverty,” National Poverty Center Working Paper (2012). Abstract below:
Using a combination of family level micro data and state level macro indicators, this analysis examines roles of the Food Stamps Program (FSP) in promoting economic security during 2004 and 2007 in the United States. To account for endogeneity and self-selection bias likely in models of labor supply, income, and poverty using survey data, panel data models are estimated by instrumenting FSP receipts with TANF receipts at the family level and FSP participation rate at a broader geographic level as instruments. While substantiating the widely recognized work disincentive effects of FSP, results support its income-enhancing effects on one hand and poverty-increasing effects on the other. These seemingly contradictory results affirm that FSP supports are typically inadequate to make a significant dent on economic insecurity of ‘poor’ families even though they help promote economic security among low income but ‘non-poor’ families.
New Article: Bridgette Baldwin, Shadow Works and Shadow Markets: How Privatization of Welfare Services Produces an Alternative Market, 34 Western New England L. Rev. 445 (2012). Abstract below:
The Author attempts to fuse Ivan Illich’s misplaced ideas of gender roles with how privatization of welfare services has legitimized a shadow economy and work through mandated community service jobs. The Article provides a historical perspective of how social services were handled, leading to the current cost/benefit legacy of welfare privatization utilized by the Wisconsin Works program (W-2). Wisconsin’s program requires women recipients to engage in volunteer work, creating a subsidized labor force for private agencies based on the presumption that work, even meaningless and menial tasks, establishes job-readiness for women on welfare. The Author suggests that we need to begin thinking about how to recreate the framework for providing public services. The community service component of W2 and its actual function powerfully demonstrates how W-2 mothers have become a reserve labor force. But at the same time the contours of W-2 make reserve labor status profitable, not for the mothers, but for the sub-contracted agencies. The relationship between W-2 mothers, the status of community service, and the position of sub-contracted agencies have generated a shadow market as a consequence of welfare privatization. The ways in which these women are held captive to a world without work, a world without skill building, and limited ways out become the grounds upon which sub-contracting agencies generate profit. Under the shroud of “cost effectiveness,” private agencies are reaping the financial windfall of “pimping” the state based on their ability to market their skills at converting welfare mothers into low-wage workers.
Op-Ed: Robert Rector [of the Heritage Foundation], Obama’s End Run on Welfare, National Review, Sep. 19, 2012.
New Article: Andre O. F. Loureiro, Can Conditional Cash Transfers Reduce Poverty and Crime? Evidence from Brazil, SSRN (2012). Abstract below:
Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) programmes are deemed to be effective measures at reducing poverty and income inequality in many developing countries. Another possible important consequence is its effect on criminal behaviour. This paper analyses a panel data set on crime rates and the Brazilian Bolsa Familia, the largest CCT programme in the world, in order to investigate these relationships and estimate the effect of these policies on crime rates. The related existing economic literature analysing general welfare programmes generally ignores the crucial endogeneity involved in the relationship between crime rates and social welfare policies, through poverty. Temporal heterogeneity in the implementation of the programme across the states is used to identify the causal impact of CCT programmes on poverty and criminality. States that reached the level of cash transfers expenditures proposed by the guidelines of the programme more promptly had a more significant reduction in poverty rates. Similar, but less robust results are found for crime rates as robbery, theft and kidnapping, while no significant effects were found for homicide and murder, indicating that property crime would be more sensitive to CCT programmes.
Op-Ed of interest: David Brooks, Thurston Howell Romney, N.Y. Times, Sep. 17, 2012. (About the Romney video on Mother Jones, available here.)
News Story: AP, Administration proposes welfare-to-work waivers, San Fran. Chronicle, July 13, 2012. And here is the related HHS memo.
-Thanks to Jeff Selbin for the heads up!
New Article: Cristina Gallo, Marrying poor: women’s citizenship, race and TANF policies, 19 UCLA Women’s L.J. 61 (2012). [Unfortunately I have not been able to find a publicly available version, but it is available through paid databases -- Lexis/Westlaw]