WORKFARE IN THE 1980s: SUCCESSES AND LIMITS

Authors

  • Bradley R. Schiller,

    1. Professor of Economics in American University's School of Public Affairs. He specializes in labor market studies, including work-welfare dynamics and lifetime employment profiles. He is the author of The Economics of Poverty and Discrimination (Prentice-Hall, 5th ed., 1989) and The Economy Today (McGraw Hill, 6th ed., 1990).
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  • C. Nielson Brasher

    1. recently completed his Ph.D. in Politics and has been directing American University's program in Brussels.
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Abstract

Between 1981 and 1987 twenty-eight states experimented with workfare programs. By requiring mandatory community service from welfare recipients, the states hoped to reduce welfare caseloads as well as increase community service. Based in part on those program experiences, Congress included the first national workfare requirement in the 1988 welfare reform package (the Family Support Act). This study is the first to attempt to evaluate the implementation and impact of workfare on a national basis. A pooled, cross-section, longitudinal model is used to estimate the effect of workfare on AFDC caseloads. Despite the low level of state-level implementation, the evidence suggests that workfare may have contributed to welfare caseload reductions in the 1980s.

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