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The welfare we want?The British challenge for American reform$
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Robert Walker and Michael Wiseman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781861344083

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861344083.001.0001

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Welfare in the United States

Welfare in the United States

(p.25) Two Welfare in the United States
The welfare we want?

Michael Wiseman

Policy Press

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

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