Some journalists, politicians, and researchers claim that in the country of “personally responsible” people there should be no dwelling on social benefits as the job opportunities are plentiful and parents should work hard to provide for their children. However, the reduction in the income support for the vulnerable groups of population led to the increase of poverty, instability, and insecurity in one of the richest countries in the world. This nation-wide issue could and should be tackled as it undermines not only the living standards of the families, who struggle to earn a living, but also denies them the chance to rise above the poverty line.
The influence of Welfare Benefits on Poverty Levels
The problem of poverty has a strong connection with income support. This is vividly represented by African-American and Latin communities, where the families tend to have more kids per one parent. According to Gradín (2012, p. 3), these groups account for 50% of all impoverished people in the United States having 60% less income than non-Hispanic Whites. Given such a grave state of affairs, the need for financial support is desperate. The very idea of welfare benefits is aimed at helping those in need to overcome their struggles and become full-scale economic agents. When a family is constantly occupied with the prime issues of survival, it may have no extra resources to change the situation for the better. For instance, when a single parent works full-time for low wages, which are barely covering food and rent expenses, there is no chance to obtain a better education for himself or herself and the children meaning there is no. Welfare benefits for such families may present an opportunity for professional growth, change in living conditions, and raising children, thus easing the financial pressure on the family.
Welfare and Economic Growth
The financial support provided by welfare benefits may be a crucial factor for the U.S. economy as it facilitates the transition of low-income families to middle-income ones. Iceland (2013, p. 4) suggests that a self-sufficient person can have a positive impact on the economy by purchasing goods and services on the market. Therefore, a family that receives welfare money can indirectly return them to the system through the taxes that are paid from each transaction. Furthermore, an opportunity to receive a proper education and then apply for a highly paid job also generates economic value in the form of an income tax.
An Alternative View on Welfare
On the other hand, some people argue that financial dependence on the government can do the needy more harm than good. However, history disproved that notion. The adopted Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was aimed at resolving the issue of poverty in the U.S. by “promoting job preparation, work and marriage” (Chappell, 2012, p. 1) downsized the budget for welfare benefit payouts. The achieved results were questionable. The assumption that this approach would tackle the problem was mostly incorrect and had dire consequences, which have further complicated the life of low-income families, especially mother-headed ones (Segal, 2013). For example, after the adoption of PRWORA, single mothers lost their benefits and were forced to work for low wages.
Judging by the controversial results of the attempt to address the needs of the deprived families by denying them financial help, it may be wise to try the opposite approach. All things considered, welfare benefits may help to decrease poverty levels in the U.S. as well as bring profit to the country’s economy because impoverished families having sufficient funds for proper education could soon join the middle class and be valuable players on the market.
Chappell, M. (2012). The War on Welfare. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gradín, C. (2012). Poverty among minorities in the United States: Explaining the racial poverty gap for Blacks and Latinos. Applied Economics, 44(29), 3793-3804.
Iceland, J. (2013). Poverty in America: A Handbook. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Segal, E. (2012). Promise of welfare reform: Political rhetoric and the reality of poverty in the twenty-first century. London, UK: Routledge