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A new idea for welfare reform

  • Michael P. Keane

This article analyzes several proposals to build work incentives into the U.S. welfare system. It concludes that the most cost effective way to do that is to offer a work subsidy to all low-income single parents—in other words, to simply pay them for working in the labor market. This conclusion is based on a model of the labor force participation behavior of low-income single mothers that the author developed with Robert Moffitt. Among the proposals evaluated in the article, besides the work subsidy, are proposals to reduce the rate that welfare benefits are reduced when welfare recipients work, to provide wage subsidies to low-wage workers, to expand the earned income tax credit, and to subsidize the fixed costs of working.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1995)
Issue (Month): Spr ()
Pages: 2-28

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1995:i:spr:p:2-28:n:v.19no.2
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  1. R. H. Haveman & J. K. Scholz, . "The Clinton welfare reform plan: Will it end poverty as we know it," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1037-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert, 1998. "A Structural Model of Multiple Welfare Program Participation and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(3), pages 553-89, August.
  3. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  4. Moffitt, Robert, 1989. "Estimating the Value of an In-Kind Transfer: The Case of Food Stamps," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 385-409, March.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
  6. Danziger, Sheldon & Haveman, Robert & Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "How Income Transfer Programs Affect Work, Savings, and the Income Distribution: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 975-1028, September.
  7. Thomas Fraker & Robert Moffitt, 1988. "The Effect of Food Stamps on Labor Supply: A Bivariate Selection Model," Mathematica Policy Research Reports efa52cc812a34ce2ac0427b91, Mathematica Policy Research.
  8. Daniel Meyer, 1993. "Child support and welfare dynamics: Evidence from Wisconsin," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 45-62, February.
  9. Moffitt, Robert & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1992. "The Effect of the Medicaid Program on Welfare Participation and Labor Supply," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 615-26, November.
  10. Willis, Robert J., 1987. "Wage determinants: A survey and reinterpretation of human capital earnings functions," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 525-602 Elsevier.
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