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

  • Erica B. Baum

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

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    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.

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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

    Volume (Year): 10 (1991)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 603-615

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:10:y:1991:i:4:p:603-615
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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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