Five Media Myths About Welfare

Five Media Myths About Welfare

I see a lot of people posting here who believe a bunch of myths about ‘welfare’. I know they believe it because they want to, and that the facts most likely won’t get them to open their eyes, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway. In that spirit, here are some common misconceptions, with more at the link.

1. Poor women have more children because of the “financial incentives” of welfare benefits.

Repeated studies show no correlation between benefit levels and women’s choice to have children. (See, for example, Urban Institute Policy and Research Report, Fall/93.) States providing relatively higher benefits do not show higher birth rates among recipients.

In any case, welfare allowances are far too low to serve as any kind of “incentive”: A mother on welfare can expect about $90 in additional AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) benefits if she has another child.

Furthermore, the real value of AFDC benefits, which do not rise with inflation, has fallen 37 percent during the last two decades (The Nation, 12/12/94). Birth rates among poor women have not dropped correspondingly.

The average family receiving AFDC has 1.9 children — about the same as the national average.

2. We don’t subsidize middle-class families.

3. The public is fed up with spending money on the poor.

4. We’ve spent over $5 trillion on welfare since the ’60s and it hasn’t worked.

5. Anyone who wants to get off welfare can just get a job.

So what did I miss? What are your favorites? Does anyone disagree with the arguments here?

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