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Abstract

This Essay explains the evolution of various approaches to welfare, assesses the efforts under the Family Support Act and reviews the principal findings of welfare research to evaluate the success of alternative program strategies. It explains the evolution of various approaches toward welfare before the mid-1990s. It then describes reforms instituted 1988 and reviews the dynamics of welfare caseloads and benefits of those programs. This Essay reviews the research findings in welfare reform's critical areas: those that seek to alter benefit structures and eligibility, and those that seek to alter fertility behavior through both incentive and punitive models. The Essay argues that both areas show the limited potential of mid-1990s proposals to alter existing caseload patterns. It finds that efforts to move welfare clients to work without impoverishing them requires significant and costly investments in training, childcare, health coverage and income and wage supplementation.

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