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May 24, 2007

Impacts of welfare reform

Ten years ago North Carolina implemented the new welfare program called Work First to motivate welfare recipients to get more education and training so they would be more self-sufficient. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden reviews the program's success.

"This kind of program was actually instituted in a lot of states. It was part of the national reform of welfare that happened in the mid-1990s," explains Dr. Walden, a professor of agricultural and resource economics. "And as you might expect there have been a lot of studies that have gone back and looked at whether programs like Work First actually accomplished what they set out to do.

"And the good news is that, in general, the program does seem to have achieved its desired results. For example, we see that welfare use is down among so-called welfare recipients. They have been able to upgrade their skills, and more of them are in the work force earning more cash.

"Now some of this, of course, is a result of the relatively strong job market that we’ve had in the last decade, but still if you control for that -- and some studies do -- they do find these positive results," Walden adds. "Now it is important to realize that a program like Work First only applies to cash welfare, so there are limits, for example, on receiving cash welfare. There are not limits on receiving other kinds of entitlement programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid."

Posted by deeshore at May 24, 2007 02:17 PM