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Congress writes a law: Research and welfare reform


  • Ron Haskins

    (Developmental psychologist, is a social policy advisor to Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee, U.S.)


This paper traces the development of the Family Support Act of 1988 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The author, a Republican staff member, examines the impact of research on the policy environment that made welfare reform possible, on the arguments presented in committee hearings and bill-writing sessions, on the House debate, and on the final House|Senate Conference Committee approval. He concludes that social science research can and does play a useful role in formulation of public policy, although the domain of application is not as broad as many scholars think. However, given the partisan nature of policy formulation and the desire of social scientists to join the process, normal methods of quality control in social science research are too often forgotten, to the detriment of sound public decision-making.

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  • Ron Haskins, 1991. "Congress writes a law: Research and welfare reform," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 616-632.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:10:y:1991:i:4:p:616-632
    DOI: 10.2307/3324988

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Christopher, Robert & Zeckhauser, Richard Jay, 2011. "The Methodology of Normative Policy Analysis," Scholarly Articles 4669672, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. StraƟheim, Holger, 2001. "Der Ruf der Sirenen - Zur Dynamik politischen Benchmarkings: Eine Analyse anhand der US-Sozialreformen," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Regulation of Work FS II 01-201, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

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