The Effect of Welfare Reform- Final Draft
In any economic climate, there is always a segment of the population which is impoverished to the point where the receipt of welfare benefits is essential for survival. However, this situation has become more acute in recent years, given the aging of the American population, a faltering economy, and the rapid increase in immigration (Kretsedemas, et al, 2004), substance abuse, and disabilities (Morgenstern, et al, 2006). All of these factors have placed huge burdens on welfare systems in every state, as well as on the federal level, making the need for welfare reform critical as the success or lack thereof is considered (Lichter, et al, 2002). However, this reform has definite effects that need to be discussed and studied.
Given the increased need of welfare reform, this research will focus on the effects that welfare reform has had on the members of society who need welfare the most, as well as those who would abuse the system. This leads to such inevitable questions as what is considered a level of success when reform is used, why one would try to implement welfare reform in such turbulent economic/social times, and whether or not there are effective ways to reform welfare without harming the truly needy for which welfare was intended in the first place.
The True Effect of Welfare Reform
In 1996, the Clinton administration passed sweeping welfare reform legislation, ostensibly designed to eliminate abuses to the welfare system and to ensure that benefits would flow to those who are truly qualified to receive them (Kretsedemas, et al, 2004). One of the problems with this initiative was that either through misinterpretation or flaws in the legislation itself, many people who would surely not be entitled to benefits, such as illegal immigrants, easily gets benefits while those clearly qualified go without help. As such, an important issue surrounding the effect of welfare reform is whether or not conditions improve in areas of chronic poverty; for example, do the poor residents of inner city neighborhoods realize an improvement in their quality of life (Kimble, 2005)?
At the time of this research, the American economy, investment markets, major banking institutions and more find themselves in the worst recession in years. As such, the welfare system is being utilized more than it has been in quite some time; therefore, the effect of welfare reform is of critical importance presently. This is because of the fact that if the welfare system is not being correctly used, the truly needy may find themselves without benefits due to the abuse of the system by those unqualified for benefits. This will be of even higher importance if the economy worsens, as many estimate it will before it gets any better.
While it is beyond the scope of this research to provide all of the answers for welfare reform, it is possible, in conclusion, to offer some well founded conclusions. First, secondary sources have shown that both a shift in demographics and economic uncertainty have created a demand for welfare benefits that has no end in sight as well as the incidence of abuses to the system such as benefits collected by illegal aliens and those that would commit outright fraud to receive them. Therefore, in conclusion, a powerful first step toward welfare reform lies in one word- enforcement. When welfare officials and a vigilant public focus efforts on close scrutiny of welfare recipients, a huge step toward needed reforms will have been achieved.
Kimble, L. (2005). Welfare Reform and the Revitalization of Inner City Neighborhoods. The Journal of African American History, 90(1-2), 178+.
Kretsedemas, P., Aparicio, A., Walters, R., & Rai, K. (2004). Immigrants, Welfare Reform, and the Poverty of Policy. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Lichter, D. T., & Jayakody, R. (2002). Welfare Reform: How Do We Measure Success? 117+.
Morgenstern, J., & Blanchard, K. A. (2006). Welfare Reform and Substance Abuse Treatment for Welfare Recipients. Alcohol Research & Health, 29(1), 63+.