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New York Post.

Welfare Reform’s Latest ‘A’
August 1, 2001

A new report shows how much welfare reform is responsible for nudging dole dwellers off public assistance and into paying jobs.

The study, out last week from the Manhattan Institute, demonstrates convincingly that federal policy changes—including strict time limits for benefits and an insistence that recipients seek employment—are responsible for about 60 percent of the overall decline in welfare and the rise in single mothers' participation in the workforce.

The economic boom, meanwhile, accounted for less than 20 percent.

The study, by respected CUNY-Baruch professors June E. O'Neill (a former director of the Congressional Budget Office) and M. Anne Hill, is further proof that those predicting doom and gloom were, well, completely wrong.

The report is comprehensive, analyzing Census Bureau statistics between 1983 and 2000 and covering 80,000 single mothers.

The most important point is that 50 percent fewer families are on welfare now than in 1996, when the new rules were put into place.

O'Neill and Hill prove that the economy alone could not have produced these changes—and that an economic downturn will not automatically toss these individuals back onto welfare.

Most significantly, they show that the women deemed most "disadvantaged" in the welfare pool—young women, minorities, mothers with small children and those without high school education—have in fact made the biggest gains. Before, the fears were that the beneficiaries of reform would primarily be white women who already had access to education.

There can't be much doubt any longer: Policy changes can have a real impact on the lives of real people.

This report should also make reasonable individuals wonder what would have happened—how many lives could have been uplifted—had only these reforms been put in place years before.

Next year, Congress will review welfare reform to assess if these changes should be reauthorized.

A few lonely souls out there will try to find reasons to go back to the bad old days. O'Neill and Hill's analysis should be all the evidence needed to refute them.

©2001 New York Post



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