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Welfare Reform in the US: Early Evidence of Impacts


  • Barbara Wolfe

    () (University of Wisconsin)


In this paper, evidence on lessons that Australians might take from the experience of the United States in undertaking extensive welfare reform is presented as well as some insights into the difficulties in evaluating major policy shifts such as welfare reform. The experience of former welfare recipients in one state, Wisconsin, using detailed administrative data on two cohorts of former recipients is the focus of the discussion, augmented by analysis of related experiments in order to include child-well-being as an outcome. The reform clearly increased self sufficiency via an increase in work effort. Earnings and earnings inequality both increased over time. School-aged and younger children appear on average to not have been harmed and some may be better off. Alternatively, evidence suggests that some adolescents are worse off.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara Wolfe, 2002. "Welfare Reform in the US: Early Evidence of Impacts," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 5(4), pages 457-470, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:5:y:2002:i:4:p:457-470

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2001. "A Wage-Tax Policy to Increase Employment," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 34(1), pages 64-80.
    2. Dixon, R., 1996. "Apparent Asymmetries in the Relationship Between the Participation Rate and the Employment Rate in Australia," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 522, The University of Melbourne.
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    More about this item


    Fiscal Policies and Behaviour of Economic Agents: Household (Effects on Labour Supply) Social security and public pensions Government programs; provision and effects of welfare programs;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


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