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When the witch doctors agree: The family support act and social science research

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  • Erica B. Baum

    (Executive Assistant to the President for Programs and Operations at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Abstract

In 1986 the author was recruited by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to draft new federal welfare reform legislation for the 100th Congress. The result was the Family Support Act of 1988. From the beginning it was planned that the bill would reflect the best knowledge available about helping poor families make the transition from dependence on welfare to independence and work. In contrast to the experience of the 1970s, when the “Witch Doctors” of social science seemed unable to agree on appropriate policies, research made a difference for FSA. The education, training, and work requirements in the legislation were substantially influenced by the evaluations of welfare-to-work programs conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, and the conduct of MDRC in the dissemination of these results contributed significantly to the effort's political success. Whether this marks a new phase in the connection between social policy and research is uncertain.

Suggested Citation

  • Erica B. Baum, 1991. "When the witch doctors agree: The family support act and social science research," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 603-615.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:10:y:1991:i:4:p:603-615
    DOI: 10.2307/3324987
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aaron, Henry J, 1989. "Politics and the Professors Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 1-15, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carol Harvey & Michael J. Camasso & Radha Jagannathan, 2000. "Evaluating Welfare Reform Waivers under Section 1115," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 165-188, Fall.
    2. Judith M. Gueron, 2003. "Presidential address-Fostering research excellence and impacting policy and practice: The welfare reform story," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 163-174.
    3. Michael Wiseman, 1991. "Research and policy: An afterword for the symposium on the family support act of 1988," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 657-666.
    4. David Greenberg & Marvin Mandell & Matthew Onstott, 2000. "The dissemination and utilization of welfare-to-work experiments in state policymaking," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 367-382.
    5. David H. Greenberg & Marvin B. Mandell, 1991. "Research utilization in policymaking: A tale of two series (of social experiments)," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 633-656.
    6. Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI), Berlin (ed.), 2013. "Research, innovation and technological performance in Germany - EFI Report 2013," Research, Innovation and Technological Performance in Germany: Report, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin, volume 127, number 2013e.
    7. DAVID H. Greenberg, 1992. "Conceptual Issues In Cost/Benefit Analysis Of Welfare-To-Work Programs," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 10(4), pages 51-64, October.

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