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The Decline of Welfare in Wisconsin


  • L. M. Mead


The recent decline in the national welfare rolls suggests that mandatory work programs can reduce dependency by more than evaluations suggest. The nonexperimental literature does not test that possibility well. This study uses field interviewing and program data more fully than previously to portray the forces shaping caseload decline. It focuses on Wisconsin, the state with the most dramatic caseload fall. A time series analysis of the state caseload trend over 1986–94 casts doubt on the view that good economic conditions and benefit cuts alone account for the caseload decline. Cross-sectional analyses comparing counties find strong evidence that both a good economy and demanding work requirements helped drive the caseload down. However, the consequences for recipients are unclear, and to reduce dependency this way makes heavy political and administrative demands on government.

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  • L. M. Mead, "undated". "The Decline of Welfare in Wisconsin," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1164-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1164-98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    2. Michael Wiseman, 1996. "State strategies for welfare reform: The Wisconsin story," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 515-546.
    3. Judith M. Gueron, 1996. "A research context for welfare reform," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 547-561.
    4. Valerie Englander & Fred Englander, 1985. "Workfare In New Jersey: A Five Year Assessment," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 5(1), pages 33-41, August.
    5. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
    6. Robert A. Moffitt, 1996. "The effect of employment and training programs on entry and exit from the welfare caseload," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 32-50.
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