Rector for Heritage - How welfare harms kids

Rector for Heritage - How welfare harms kids - Backgrounder...

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1084 June 5, 1996 H OW W ELFARE H ARMS K IDS INTRODUCTION T he Stand for Children rally, held in Washington on June 1, called attention to the plight of the nation’s children. However, the unstated, underlying goal was to defend the continuing growth of the welfare system and implicitly to criticize those in Congress who have sought to reform it. Thus, while the Stand for Children event properly called at- tention to the disastrous condition of America’s children, it is important to recognize that children are suffering precisely because of the governmental policies supported over the last 25 years by the leading organizations promoting the rally. The simple fact is that children are suffering because the U.S. welfare system has failed. Designed as a system to help children, it has ended up damaging and abusing the very children it was intended to save. The welfare system has failed because the ideas upon which it was founded are flawed. The current system is based on the assumption that higher welfare benefits and expanded welfare eligibility are good for children. Ac- cording to this theory, welfare reduces poverty, and so will increase children’s lifetime well-being and attainment. This is untrue. Higher welfare payments do not help children; they increase dependence and illegitimacy, which have a devastating effect on children’s development. Americans often are told that the current welfare system does not promote long-term dependence. This also is untrue. The 4.7 million families currently receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) already have spent, on average, six-and-a-half years on wel- fare. When past and estimated future receipts of AFDC are combined, the estimated average length of stay on AFDC, among those families currently receiving bene- fits, is 13 years. Among the 4.7 million families currently receiving AFDC, over 90 percent will spend over two years on the AFDC caseload. More than 75 percent will spend over five years on AFDC. 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002-4999 (202) 546-4400 http://www.heritage.org/ Backgrounder Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.
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It is welfare dependence, not poverty, that has the most negative effect on children. Recent research by Congressional Budget Office Director June O’Neill shows that increasing the length of time a child spends on welfare may reduce the child’s IQ by as much as 20 percent. Welfare dependency as a child has a negative effect on the earnings and employ- ment capacity of young men. The more welfare income received by a boy’s fam- ily during his childhood, the lower the boy’s earnings will be as an adult, even when compared to boys in families with identical non-welfare income. Welfare also plays a powerful role in promoting illegitimacy. Research by CBO Direc-
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Rector for Heritage - How welfare harms kids - Backgrounder...

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