The Deserving Poor, the Family, and the U.S. Welfare System

Publication Date:
Jan 2015
Published In:
Project Programs:
Social Inequality

Contrary to the popular view that the U.S. welfare system has been in a contractionary phase after the expansions of the welfare state in the 1960s, welfare spending resumed steady growth after a pause in the 1970s. However, although aggregate spending is higher than ever, there have been redistributions away from non-elderly and non-disabled families to families with older adults and to families with recipients of disability programs; from non-elderly, non-disabled single-parent families to married-parent families; and from the poorest families to those with higher incomes. These redistributions likely reflect long-standing, and perhaps increasing, conceptualizations by U.S. society of which poor are deserving and which are not.

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