The Social Safety Net After Welfare Reform: Recent Developments and Consequences for Household Dynamics

The Social Safety Net After Welfare Reform: Recent Developments and Consequences for Household... The remarkable transformation of the American social safety net that began in the early 1990s has led to seismic shifts in who benefits and how. More than two decades later, how should these changes be judged? Expanding and updating prior influential reviews, we evaluate how the transformation of the safety netbroadly definedhas shaped economic and family dynamics within low-income households. Collectively, social safety net policies have expanded support for working poor parents quite dramatically, while the cash safety net for the nonworking poor has all but collapsed. Working poor families have come out ahead economically, with mounting evidence of positive long-term benefits for child health and development. At the same time, a substantial number of poor families have fallen through the cracks, disconnected from stable, adequate wage income and cash aid. A growing number report income so low that it can be tracked with indicators used to measure poverty in the developing world. Meanwhile, contrary to reformers predictions, these changes have had little effect on marriage or unwed births. We call for a reinvigorated focus on the continued evolution of the social safety net and discuss ways in which a sociological perspective can enhance such work. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Sociology Annual Reviews

The Social Safety Net After Welfare Reform: Recent Developments and Consequences for Household Dynamics

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Publisher
Annual Reviews
Copyright
Copyright 2017 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
ISSN
0360-0572
eISSN
1545-2115
D.O.I.
10.1146/annurev-soc-060116-053300
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The remarkable transformation of the American social safety net that began in the early 1990s has led to seismic shifts in who benefits and how. More than two decades later, how should these changes be judged? Expanding and updating prior influential reviews, we evaluate how the transformation of the safety netbroadly definedhas shaped economic and family dynamics within low-income households. Collectively, social safety net policies have expanded support for working poor parents quite dramatically, while the cash safety net for the nonworking poor has all but collapsed. Working poor families have come out ahead economically, with mounting evidence of positive long-term benefits for child health and development. At the same time, a substantial number of poor families have fallen through the cracks, disconnected from stable, adequate wage income and cash aid. A growing number report income so low that it can be tracked with indicators used to measure poverty in the developing world. Meanwhile, contrary to reformers predictions, these changes have had little effect on marriage or unwed births. We call for a reinvigorated focus on the continued evolution of the social safety net and discuss ways in which a sociological perspective can enhance such work.

Journal

Annual Review of SociologyAnnual Reviews

Published: Jul 31, 2017

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