New Symposium: The Law of Parents and Parenting Symposium, 90 Fordham L. Rev. (2022). Contained Articles listed below:
Dated but interesting paper, given who the authors are: David T. Ellwood & Lawrence H. Summers, “Poverty in America: Is Welfare the Answer or the Problem?” NBER Paper (1985). Abstract below:
This paper reviews the current policies for fighting poverty and explores the impact they have had. We begin by reviewing trends in poverty, poverty spending and economic performance. It is immediately apparent that economic performance is the dominant determinant of the measured poverty rate over the past two decades. Government assistance programs expanded greatly over this period, but the growth in cash assistance was too modest to have major effects, and the large growth in in-kind benefits could not reduce measured poverty since such benefits are not counted as income. Next we focus on three groups: the disabled, female family heads, and unemployed black youth. We find little evidence that government deserves the blame for the problems of each group, and suggest that the broad outlines of current policies are defensible on economic grounds.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s website has a very useful search feature on its main page that then allows you to narrow by type of publication and by year. Worth checking out. Here are some sample GAO reports from a “poverty” search in 2010-2011 (please excuse the fact that I did not bluebook the cites!):
New Book: Kaaryn Gustafson, Cheating Welfare: Public Assistance and the Criminalization of Poverty (2011). Abstract below:
Over the last three decades, welfare policies have been informed by popular beliefs that welfare fraud is rampant. As a result, welfare policies have become more punitive and the boundaries between the welfare system and the criminal justice system have blurred—so much so that in some locales prosecution caseloads for welfare fraud exceed welfare caseloads. In reality, some recipients manipulate the welfare system for their own ends, others are gravely hurt by punitive policies, and still others fall somewhere in between.
In Cheating Welfare, Kaaryn S. Gustafson endeavors to clear up these gray areas by providing insights into the history, social construction, and lived experience of welfare. She shows why cheating is all but inevitable—not because poor people are immoral, but because ordinary individuals navigating complex systems of rules are likely to become entangled despite their best efforts. Through an examination of the construction of the crime we know as welfare fraud, which she bases on in-depth interviews with welfare recipients in Northern California, Gustafson challenges readers to question their assumptions about welfare policies, welfare recipients, and crime control in the United States.
Worth checking out: The National Academies Press is now giving free access to their books through their website and the books available cover everything from climate change to poverty issues. For example: Welfare, the Family, and Reproductive Behavior (Robert A. Moffitt ed. 1998).
New Article: Yonatan Ben-Shalom, Robert A. Moffitt & John Karl Scholz, An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States, NBER Working Paper No. w17042. Abstract below:
We assess the effectiveness of means-tested and social insurance programs in the United States. We show that per capita expenditures on these programs as a whole have grown over time but expenditures on some programs have declined. The benefit system in the U.S. has a major impact on poverty rates, reducing the percent poor in 2004 from 29 percent to 13.5 percent, estimates which are robust to different measures of the poverty line. We find that, while there are significant behavioral side effects of many programs, their aggregate impact is very small and does not affect the magnitude of the aggregate poverty impact of the system. The system reduces poverty the most for the disabled and the elderly and least for several groups among the non-elderly and non-disabled. Over time, we find that expenditures have shifted toward the disabled and the elderly, and away from those with the lowest incomes and toward those with higher incomes, with the consequence that post-transfer rates of deep poverty for some groups have increased. We conclude that the U.S. benefit system is paternalistic and tilted toward the support of the employed and toward groups with special needs and perceived deservingness.
(I can’t help but note the “surprising” conclusion.)