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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Welfare Reform in an Era of Economic Downturns

  • Author(s): Sandoval, Juan Onesimo
  • et al.

In this paper, I argue that the current version of welfare reform has been motivated by a symbolic movement to restore the U.S. as a land of opportunity. The tacit belief behind this movement is that too many of America’s poor have given up on the American dream. I argue that the 1996 welfare-to-work law is inadequate during periods of economic recession. The devolution of social responsibility to the states, implemented in the midst of an unprecedented expansion left many of America’s most vulnerable groups in peril during the ensuing economic downturn. The next stage of welfare reform will need to address the multifaceted challenges of finding employment for welfare recipients through a sustainable social policy. Such a policy will need to be built upon the understanding that the success of any welfare-to-work law will require both Federal-state partnerships and state-county partnerships.

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