16 May 2011

Mothers and Welfare: Policy ideas

As we saw in our stroll down Dysgenics lane, there are good reasons a healthy society might want to avoid paying its least productive members to have children while taxing its most productive members to fund them.

Here we pull out our telescope and take a long gaze around the world, to see how other countries (or provinces, or towns) are dealing with the question.

Policy-makers should do the same.

Remember our Hunan Experiment?  Today we look at welfare payments for women like Ling, not for women like Mei.  The latter type exist also, and are worth a look.  But not today.
We have a variety of ideas--some are still being debated, some are in place but just since recently, others have been law for awhile and thus are better analyzed.

Press articles, academic journal articles, and some full-on research studies.  Here we go...

Welfare policy and Mothers:

For a good global comparison, here are three charts.  They look at 22 developed countries and ask things like:  Does the government hand out child benefits here?  How much?  Low-income people only, or everyone?  Can you be married and get it?  For how many kids?  Until what age?  Who pays for it?

Coverage, Qualifying conditions, Benefit levels, Other related allowances

Chart no. 2:  Child and Family:
Cash and Tax Benefits in Select Industrialized Countries

Governing laws, Type of Program, Source of funds, Administrative organization


"Recipients who test positive for drugs would lose their benefits for a year. If they fail a second time, they lose the benefits for three years."

(U.S.: New Jersey): Welfare Cap Cuts Births, Study Says, L.A. Times wire report, Nov. 1998

November 1998--New Jersey in 1992 enacted a law cutting off welfare benefits after two children.  Here were the results.  [See also
The Evaluators Reply, on the study results, highly contested by some (including the New Jersey government!), which showed a marked increase in abortions after the law came into effect.]

(U.S.: California):  Group offers crack addicts money for contraceptive procedures, National Drug Strategy Network, Nov. 1997

November 1997--California woman (adoptive mother of four drug-addicted babies) launches program to pay drug-addicted women to get a tubal ligation. 

(Australia): Single parents fleeing welfare since 2006 law:, The Australian, Natasha Bita, Oct. 2009

"Single parents have dropped off welfare in droves since the Howard government forced them to look for work once their children start school."

"Teenage parents who refuse to attend school or training will have their parenting payment suspended under a trial by the Federal Government."

(India, Maharashtra): Welfare cut off after two children:, Frontline, Praveem Swami, Sep. 2000

"Starting next year [Maharashtra] plans to cut off access to over 60 state-run welfare programmes to people who violate the two-child norm."


(U.K.): Charles Murray and the Underclass: The Developing Debate, Charles Murray et al., IEA Health and Welfare Unit, 1999

Simply the best work to date on the question of dysgenic welfare policy. Includes Murray's 1990 classic 'The Emerging British Underclass,' with commentaries by British researchers.  A must-read. [190-page PDF]

" Jobs First was one of the earliest statewide programs to impose a time limit on welfare receipt: Families are limited to 21 months of cash assistance unless they receive an exemption or extension." [non-PDF]


Stinging critique of Ontario's 1990s welfare reform, includes interviews with women affected by it.  Fascinating read.  [29-page PDF]  

(Europe):  Does European-style welfare generosity discourage single mother employment? , Lane Destro and David Brady, Luxembourg Income Study working paper, Aug. 2010

Western Europe, 17 countries, comparative.  [42-page PDF]

(U.K.): Welfare to Work in the United Kingdom, Martin Evans and Jane Millar, U. of Bath, 2006

Looks at policies aimed at single parents.  Comparative study with the U.S..  [24-page PDF] 

(Israel):  The Single Parent Law, Labor Supply, and Poverty, Karnit Flug and Nitsa Kasir, Israel Economic Review, 2006

Israel voted in generous benefits for non-working single mothers in the 1990s.  What were the effects?  [52-page PDF]

(Japan, U.S.):  Lone mothers and welfare-to-work policies in Japan and the United States, Aya Ezawa and Chisa Fujiwara, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Dec. 2005

Japan and U.S., comparative study.  [non-PDF]

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