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Welfare and Race Thread

Welfare and Race [ 6 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Sun, 06 Nov 1994 18:41:40 -0400 (EDT) From: NANCY MARIE ROBERTSON <ROBRTSNN@ACFcluster.NYU.EDU>

>From Nancy Robertson
robrtsnn@acfcluster.nyu.edu

I recall hearing that the majority of recipients of welfare (and/or AFDC) are white even though "welfare" is frequently treated as a governmental program for people (women) of color.

Does any one have a citation for this and how is "welfare" defined (i.e. which programs) when this statement is made.

Thank you
Nancy Reply #7; Welfare and Race

Reply #7 Welfare and Race [ 9 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Wed, 09 Nov 94 11:15:30 EST
From: LIZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu

I think the most recent research on time on AFDC is from LaDonna Pavetti at Urban Institute in Washington DC. Per NY Times 10/24/94, she finds much higher rate of leaving AFDC roles for jobs than did Mary Jo Bane, but also studied how long they stayed in the jobs. The results as reported in the Times are very interesting. Liz Mcculloch Center for Govt'l Responsibility UF College of Law Reply #8; Welfare and Race

Reply #8 Welfare and Race [ 9 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 12:09:39 -0600
From: michel sonya a. <herfmich@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>

With regard to time spent on welfare/getting off, etc., see Heidi Hartmann and Roberta Spalter-Roth's article, "AFDC Recipients as Care-givers and Workers: A Feminist Approach to Income Security Policy for American Women," in SOCIAL POLITICS: INTERNATIONAL STUDIES IN GENDER, STATE, AND SOCIETY, vol. 1, no. 2 (Summer 1994). This is a new journal, available from University of Illinois Press, if your library doesn't carry it.

Sonya Michel
michel@princeton.edu Welfare and Race

REPLY: Welfare and Race [ 6 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Sun, 06 Nov 1994 17:10:55 -0800 (PST) From: Richard Sutch <rsutch@econ.Berkeley.EDU>

With regard to AFDC the figures are:

White     38.8%
Black     39.8
Hispanic  15.7
Asian      2.4
other      3.3

SEE: Andrew Hacker, _Two Nations Balck and White: Separate, Hostile, Unequal_, Scribners, 1992, p. 87.

The whole book is highly recommended if you are interested in this topic.

For a definition of "welfare" you might check out the Statistical Abstract 1993. Table 579 gives the Soc Security Administration's definition by program (but the data presented are not by race, perhaps the source has that detail, I don't know). Table 582 "Cash and Noncash benefits for persons with limited income" gives another view. You might check out its source to see if it has race data. According to Hacker, more detail on AFDC can be found in Dept of Health and Human Services, "Charactersitics and Financial Circumstances of AFDC Recipients," 1988 (but I suppose subsequent editions could bring you up to date).

Hope this helps.

Richard Sutch Welfare and Race

Reply #2: Welfare and Race [ 7 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Sun, 06 Nov 1994 18:36:07 -0800
From: beriss@bcf.usc.edu (David Beriss)

>I recall hearing that the majority of recipients of welfare (and/or >AFDC) are white even though "welfare" is frequently treated as a >governmental program for people (women) of color. >
>Does any one have a citation for this and how is "welfare" defined >(i.e. which programs) when this statement is made. >

I think what I have most often heard is that many people view poverty as a black, urban underclass phenonmenon and, by extension, assume the same of welfare. And welfare is most often understood as AFDC, with food stamps, SSI, WIC, Head-Start, various forms of housing assistance, medicare and medicaid, etc. Every now and then someone will choose to make an issue of state-run general assistance programs. These definitions, as I note below, are not necessarily the only ones possible and I would strongly urge you to pay attention to them when people start making any sorts of claims about social policy.

Poverty, of course, is not exclusively a black urban underclass phenomenon - au contraire. There are zillions of sources you can look to to confirm this. See, for instance: Christopher Jencks' "Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty and the Underclass", Harvard U Press, 1992 or Michael Katz' "The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare, Pantheon, 1989. However, what we find is that while there are far more poor white people than poor black people, poverty rates are higher among black people than among white people. Among white people the poverty rate is only around 11% or 12% while among black people it is over 30%, if I remember correctly.

As for division according to who receives AFDC, according to Jencks (citing statistics from the House Ways and Means Committee from 1989, see page 264 of his book, note 7), nationally recipients are about 40% black, and 39% non-Hispanic white. He doesn't say who the other 20% are. One would suppose that virtually all of the recipients are women, since the program is (currently) designed to aid single mothers. This is not true of all "welfare" programs. In any case, the division of aid recipients by "race" varies widely from place to place - where the majority of the population is white, say, in rural Minnesota, the majority of aid recipients are as well. Its a big country, after all, and policy is not necessarily best served by broad generalizations about who gets what aid.

In fact, if we redefine social welfare spending to include all the programs I cited above, aimed primarily at poor people (except Medicare), as well as things like college loans and military pensions, social security, various forms of home loan assistance, etc., the majority of such spending goes to the middle classes. Jencks' writes (p.76), "In 1980, only a fifth of all social-welfare spending was explicitly aimed at low-income families, and only a tenth was for programs providing cash, food, or housing to such families." Which of course suggests that overall social spending is oriented towards white folks, since more of them are middle-class.

I am sure others will chime in here with lots more relevant references and stats. I should point out, however, that the question you ask really ought to be followed up with others: why do we think its significant to analyse program participation by "race"? How sure are we of who belongs in which "race" (as in Jencks' missing 20%)? Does welfare lift anyone, anywhere, above or even near to the poverty line? Does it lift some people, but not others? What part of the federal budget is taken up by social spending on poor people and, more broadly, by social spending in general? What part of state and local budgets?

Enjoy.

David Beriss


David I. Beriss
Department of French and Italian
University of Southern California
THH126
Los Angeles, CA 90089

phone: (213) 740-3171 or 3700 (office) fax: (213) 746-7297

(213) 664-4284 (home)
internet: beriss@mizar.usc.edu


Welfare and Race

Reply #3: Welfare and Race [ 7 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Sun, 06 Nov 1994 21:37 -0600 (CST) From: Steve Wernet <YW00SPW@luccpua.it.luc.edu>

Social Security Bulletin provides an annual analysis and review of all major social security and social welfare programs. I believe this issue of SSB is published in July of each year. Steve Wernet
Loyola University of Chicago
School of Social Work Welfare and Race

Reply #4: Welfare and Race [ 7 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 05:17:30 -0600 (CST) From: Charles <ATHERTON@UA1VM.UA.EDU>

>I recall hearing that the majority of recipients of welfare (and/or >AFDC) are white even though "welfare" is frequently treated as a >governmental program for people (women) of color. >
>Does any one have a citation for this and how is "welfare" defined >(i.e. which programs) when this statement is made. >
--Generally, when "welfare" is used, it is AFDC that is meant. The last time I looked this up, approximately 40% of AFDC recipients were African-American. The program is also not exclusively for women. Again, the last time I looked it up about 7% of those receiving caretaker grants were men. Prior to 1988, couples with both parents in the home could receive AFDC only in about 40 states. Since the Family Support Act of 1988, all states must provide AFDC for poor families with both parents present. Hence, the notion that a man must leave his partner before she can receive AFDC for the children cannot hold. There never was any convincing research that it held prior to 1988--at least I don't know of any. I am forced to conclude that men who leave their partners in these situations are simply irresponsible.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States used to be the quick source for the current information that you want. For some reason, the SA no longer carries the same detailed information. I don't know that there is anything sinister in this, but who knows. Probably the best source of current information is the *Social Security Bulletin* or the Census Department's *Current Population Reports*. If you can't dig out the information in those two sources, try the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. You can get on the mailing list for their publication *Focus* for free. Write to *Focus*, 1180 Observatory Drive, 3412 Social Science Building, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison WI 53706.

If these sources do not serve your purpose, please write back off-list, and I'll see what I can find. It's 5:45 a.m. and our library isn't open yet!

Regards,
Charles Atherton
atherton@ua1vm.ua.edu Welfare and Race

Reply #5: Welfare and Race [ 7 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 10:35:59 -0500 (GMT-5) From: Kirsten Lindquist <LINDQUIS@polsci.purdue.edu>

In Devine and Wright, THE GREATEST OF EVILS, they quote the white percentage of AFDC recipients at 54%. I don't remember the breakdown along people of color, however the book is excellent for an analysis of the problematic notions associated with AFDC recipients and african americans.

Kirsten Lindquist
Purdue University
LINDQUIS@POLSCI.PURDUE.EDU Welfare and Race

Reply #6 Welfare and Race [ 7 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 11:42:29 +0001 (EST) From: peter c holloran <pch@world.std.com>

When I worked for the Massachusetts welfare department (before my glamorous and profitable career as a historian), I saw evidence each day that the typical welfare recipient was a white female suburban divorced (or separated) mother of two, who had a high school diploma and was on welfare for two years or less. I have seen no statistics to the contrary, but I would also like to see a reliable source for this. The image of the unmarried black welfare mother with many children on welfare for decades is simply a racist myth.
Peter Holloran, Pine Manor College. pch@world.std.com Reply #7; Welfare and Race

Reply #7&8: Welfare and Race [ 8 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 18:24:04 -0500 (EST) From: LIZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu

The majority of recipients of AFDC are not women, but children.


the source i use for data on afdc is the US house of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means "Green Book" - their annual report on social welfare programs under their jurisdiction. For each program, there is a good description of how it works, followed by massive amounts of interesting data, national and state by state.

liz McCulloch, Ctr for Govt'l Responsibility, UF College of Law Reply #6; Welfare and Race

Reply #6 Welfare and Race [ 9 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Tue, 8 Nov 1994 08:19:02 -0700 (MST) From: SUSAN M. STERETT <ssterett@du.edu> For interesting information on length of time on AFDC etc. see Mary Jo Bane's work in Danziger and Ellwood, Fighting Poverty.

Susan Sterett
University of Denver
ssterett@diana.cair.du.edu Reply #7; Welfare and Race

Reply #7 Welfare and Race [ 9 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Wed, 09 Nov 94 11:15:30 EST
From: LIZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu

I think the most recent research on time on AFDC is from LaDonna Pavetti at Urban Institute in Washington DC. Per NY Times 10/24/94, she finds much higher rate of leaving AFDC roles for jobs than did Mary Jo Bane, but also studied how long they stayed in the jobs. The results as reported in the Times are very interesting. Liz Mcculloch Center for Govt'l Responsibility UF College of Law Reply #8; Welfare and Race

Reply #8 Welfare and Race [ 9 Nov 1994 ]


Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 12:09:39 -0600
From: michel sonya a. <herfmich@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>

With regard to time spent on welfare/getting off, etc., see Heidi Hartmann and Roberta Spalter-Roth's article, "AFDC Recipients as Care-givers and Workers: A Feminist Approach to Income Security Policy for American Women," in SOCIAL POLITICS: INTERNATIONAL STUDIES IN GENDER, STATE, AND SOCIETY, vol. 1, no. 2 (Summer 1994). This is a new journal, available from University of Illinois Press, if your library doesn't carry it.

Sonya Michel
michel@princeton.edu



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