In this piece, Jennifer Roback Morse extends the idea of the welfare state to areas such as social security. Morse contends that the rise of social security has caused parents to neglect the raising of their children, which in turn causes their children to neglect them in their old age. This pattern results in the breakdown of the family by furthering reliance on...
Quotes on The Welfare State & the Family
"The majority of Negro children receive public assistance under the AFDC program at one point or another in their childhood.
At present, 14 percent of Negro children are receiving AFDC assistance, as against 2 percent of white children. Eight percent of white children receive such assistance at some time, as against 56 percent of nonwhites, according to an extrapolation based on HEW data. …
Again, the situation may be said to be worsening. The AFDC program, deriving from the long established Mothers' Aid programs, was established in 1935 principally to care for widows and orphans, although the legislation covered all children in homes deprived of parental support because one or both of their parents are absent or incapacitated.
The steady expansion of this welfare program, as of public assistance programs in general, can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States."
"In too many cases, if our Government had set out determined to destroy the family, it couldn't have done greater damage than some of what we see today. Too often these programs, well-intentioned, welfare programs for example, which were meant to provide for temporary support, have undermined responsibility. They've robbed people of control of their lives, destroyed their dignity, in some cases -- and we've tried hard to change this -- encouraged people, man and wife, to live apart because they might just get a little bit more to put in their pockets."
"Most of the major problems that many black people face are not amendable to political solutions and government anti-poverty programs. Let's look at some. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate among blacks was about 15 percent.
Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 70 percent. Today's breakdown of the black family is unprecedented. It began in the 1960s with the War on Poverty and the harebrained ideas of the welfare state. … By the way, the welfare state is an equal opportunity family destroyer. Today's illegitimacy rate among whites, at nearly 30 percent, is higher than it was among blacks in the 1960s when Moynihan sounded the alarm. In Sweden, the mother of the welfare state, illegitimacy is 54 percent."
"The disappearance of marriage in low-income communities is the predominant cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. If poor single mothers were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds of them would not be poor. The absence of a husband and father from the home also is a strong contributing factor to failure in school, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance, and a host of other social problems."
"Family was an integral way of caring for individuals as a whole for centuries. Supporters of the welfare state forget the past."
"The tragedy of government welfare programs is not just wasted taxpayer money but wasted lives. The effects of welfare in encouraging the break-up of low-income families have been extensively documented. The primary way that those with low incomes can advance in the market economy is to get married, stay married, and work—but welfare programs have created incentives to do the opposite."
"Of course women do not get pregnant just to get welfare benefits. It is also true that a wide array of other social factors has contributed to the growth in out-of-wedlock births. But, by removing the economic consequences of a[n] out-of-wedlock birth, welfare has removed a major incentive to avoid such pregnancies. A teenager looking around at her friends and neighbors is liable to see several who have given birth out of wedlock. When she sees that they have suffered few visible immediate consequences (the very real consequences of such behavior are often not immediately apparent), she is less inclined to modify her own behavior to prevent pregnancy."
"When the modern system of public assistance evolved in the 1930s, proponents felt that a humane society should take care of those who had no male breadwinner in the home. No thought was given to the possibility that public assistance predicated on the absence of a male head of household might lead to an increase in the number of such families. If you subsidize something, usually you get more of it, and this has been the case with the single parent families and the welfare system."
"Before the welfare state, there existed incentives to have children and insure your own future. Now, we have incentives to break the family apart. TANF actually gives more money to single moms. This may seem like a great program to help single mothers in need, but in reality, the program makes it easier for the man in the family to leave. It reduces the man's practical responsibility to stay and raise the child. The program creates more single mothers!"
"…in America the problem with primarily cash welfare was that it undermined the work ethic and produced a generation of people who had never been employed, encouraged (if not exactly caused) unmarried motherhood, wrecked families (or made it irrational to start them), and reduced the inner cities to Third World status."
"As welfare contributes to the rise in out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families, it concomitantly contributes to the associated increase in criminal activity.
Secondly, welfare leads to increased crime by contributing to the marginalization of young black men in society. There are certainly many factors contributing to the increasing alienation and marginalization of young black men, including racism, poverty, and the failure of our educational system. However, welfare contributes as well. The welfare culture tells the man he is not a necessary part of the family. They are in effect cuckolded by the state. Their role of father and breadwinner is supplanted by the welfare check."
"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 welfare.
- When past and estimated future receipts of AFDC are combined, the estimated average length of stay on AFDC, among those families currently receiving benefits, 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."
"Welfare is also likely to entrap the next generation as well. The attitudes and habits that lead to welfare dependency are transmitted the same way as other parent-to-child pathologies, such as alcoholism and child abuse. Although it is true that the majority of children raised on welfare will not receive welfare themselves, the rate of welfare dependence for children raised on it is far higher than for their non-welfare counterparts.
Children raised on welfare are likely to have lower incomes as adults than children not raised on welfare. The more welfare received by a child's family, the lower that child's earnings as an adult tend to be, even holding constant such other factors as race, family structure, and education."
"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."
"Although arithmetically most AFDC recipients were white, it had a disproportionate effect on the black community, where it almost destroyed the family. Between 1962 and 1972 the number of AFDC families tripled from 1 million to 3 million. By 1994, 66 percent of AFDC families were headed by never-married mothers; in 1975 the figure was only 33 percent. In certain inner-city areas the illegitimacy rate for black births was 80 percent (in 1950 the figure for the black community overall was 20 percent). Thirty percent of all welfare recipients go on welfare because of unwed motherhood. This was moral hazard on the grand scale."
"Welfare dependency as a child has a negative effect on the earnings and employment capacity of young men. The more welfare income received by a boy's family 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."
"Why have the 1996 reforms worked, when three decades of prior reform efforts failed? The answer is that the new reforms were the first to fundamentally change the incentives single women faced under federal welfare programs. Before 1996, the main federal welfare program -- Aid to Families with Dependent Children -- had been in place since the New Deal. Under that program, a single mother was eligible for cash and noncash benefits so long as she had low earnings and a child under the age of 18. Previous efforts to move recipients from welfare to self-sufficiency focused only on providing employment and job-training programs, but left the basic benefit guarantee intact.
The 1996 reform changed this dramatically. The law scrapped this old system, replacing it with an entirely new program -- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The five-year lifetime limit for benefits and the up-front mandatory work requirement -- the major features of the 1996 reform -- totally changed the incentives. The time limit meant single mothers could no longer depend on a guaranteed income for 10 years or more. And the work requirement sharply limited welfare recipients' discretionary time."
"The agenda of the state is to break up the family. The more you depend on the state, the more you justify its existence, and the larger it grows. The idea that people can provide things for themselves either individually or through the family frightens the state. It delegitimizes its role. The role of the family is dangerous to its survival.
Movement away from the welfare state is movement toward better family values and better family cohesiveness.
The death of the family is the life of the state."
"Welfare reform, enacted by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, recognized the vital importance of marriage and family, in fact, 3 out of the 4 provisions related to marriage or family. Welfare reform requires states to pursue 'job preparation, work and marriage… prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies… [and] encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.' In spite of this overwhelming requirement, the focus of reforms seems to be principally on job preparation and work. It has been recognized as a bi-partisan, cultural imperative that the other three issues are part of welfare reform. Reauthorization must address the other 3 out of 4 issues more thoroughly. In order to begin to promote marriage, reduce illegitimacy, and encourage families we must curb the trends of divorce and fatherlessness. Father absence, a byproduct of divorce, illegitimacy, and the erosion of the traditional family, is responsible for: filling our prisons, causing psychological problems, suicide, psychosis, gang activity, rape, physical and sexual child abuse, violence against women, general violence, alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, lower academic achievement, school drop-outs, relationship instability, gender identity confusion, runaways, homelessness, cigarette smoking, and any number of corrosive social disorders."
"The steady growth of childbearing by single women and the general collapse of marriage, especially among the poor, lie at the heart of the mushrooming welfare state. This year, taxpayers will spend over $300 billion providing means-tested welfare aid to single parents. The average single mother receives nearly three dollars in government benefits for each dollar she pays in taxes. These subsidies are funded largely by the heavy taxes paid by higher-income married couples. ...
Single mothers are inherently in far greater need of government support than married couples, so an increase in single parenthood leads almost inevitably to an increase in government benefits and services and a thriving welfare industry to supply them. Marital collapse creates a burgeoning new clientele dependent on government services and political patrons. ...
For the statist, the collapse of marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. It's no accident that the modern welfare system rewards single parents and penalizes married couples."
"Many observers, when commenting on growing income inequality in America, focus correctly on evidence that, around the world, well-educated men and women enjoy increasing advantages over poorly educated ones.
Yet for some reason less attention is almost always devoted to the pivotal connection between family structure and success in school and in the economy.
Rarely, in short, is sufficient attention paid to how family fragmentation—in which, unhappily, the United States leads the industrialized world—is contributing to widening disparities of income and wealth.
Many liberals seem too busy instinctively blaming conservative ideas and policies for those troubling disparities, while many conservatives, equally unhelpfully, think it adequate, whenever the subject comes up, to charge liberals with suffering 'class envy' and waging 'class warfare.'
Might I respectfully add here that it is impossible for me to imagine how liberal friends could not be at least as concerned as I am from the conservative side of the aisle about the thinning of marriage and its straight line to social class ruptures?"
More About This Topic...
- 100th New Library Topic: The Welfare State and the Family
- Gaining Ground? Measuring the Impact of Welfare Reform on Welfare and Work
- Characteristics of AFDC Recipients upon First Enrollment, Overall and by Total Time on Welfare
- Introduction to the AFDC Program
- The Welfare State and the Family
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Black Child Poverty 1970-2001
- King V. Smith (1968)
- Child Poverty and Welfare Reform: Stay the Course
- Staying Single: The Effects of Welfare Reform Policies on Marriage and Cohabitation