MYTHS ABOUT PUBLIC WELFARE: POVERTY, FAMILY INSTABILITY, AND TEEN ILLEGITIMACY

Shirley L. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

To rationalize federal cutbacks in spending for public welfare, President Reagan charged that public welfare programs are responsible for leading to a “national tragedy involving family breakdown, teen‐age illegitimacy and worsening poverty.” Yet analysis of 1980 and 1982 census data for the 50 states suggests that if this is so, it is because of low, not high, spending for public welfare. While low state spending for public welfare is predictive of high teen illegitimacy rates and directly linked to high state poverty and divorce rates, higher state spending for public welfare is predictive of lower teen birth rates, and linked to lower rates of family breakup and poverty. Despite limitations inherent in the analysis, the findings challenge the contention that spending for public welfare contributes to family breakup, teen illegitimacy and poverty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-688
Number of pages15
JournalReview of Policy Research
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1989

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