The 1996 Welfare Reform and Its Impact Today

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The 1996 Welfare Reform and Its Impact Today

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The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 caused monumental changes in the welfare system. Ten years later, how has welfare reform worked and what lessons can be learned from the passage of the welfare bill? Ron Haskins, author of Work over Welfare and a congressional staffer deeply involved in drafting welfare reform legislation, discussed the origins of welfare reform and its performance over the last decade. He was joined by Mitch Pearlstein, founder and president of the Center of the American Experiment, and Professor Maria Hanratty of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Professor Larry Jacobs moderated. Ron Haskins is a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. He also serves as senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. At Brookings and Casey, his areas of expertise include welfare reform, child care, child support enforcement, child protection, and economic inequality. From February to December of 2002 he was the senior advisor to the President for Welfare Policy at the White House. Prior to joining Brookings and Casey, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, first as welfare counsel to the Republican staff, then as the subcommittee’s staff director. From 1981 to 1985, he was a senior researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. He also taught and lectured on history and education at UNC, Charlotte and taught developmental psychology at Duke University. He is the author of Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law, and a senior editor of The Future of Children, a journal on policy issues that affect children and families. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in education, and a doctorate in developmental psychology, all from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Mitch Pearlstein is founder and president of the Center of the American Experiment, a nonpartisan, public policy and educational institution that brings conservative and free market ideas to bear on state and national problems. Dr. Pearlstein served for more than two years in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan and (first) Bush administrations, where he held positions including director of outreach for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Prior to his work in Washington, Dr. Pearlstein spent four years as an editorial writer and columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he focused on foreign and national affairs. He also worked in the Office of Minnesota Governor Al Quie as special assistant for policy and communications and as a research fellow at the Humphrey School. He earned a doctorate degree in educational administration at the University of Minnesota, with an emphasis on higher education policy. Maria Hanratty is an associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She teaches courses in social policy and distributive justice and specializes in health economics, the economics of poverty, and comparative social welfare institutions. Before joining the Humphrey School in the fall of 1998, Hanratty was a senior economist with the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C., for one year and an assistant professor at Princeton University. She has taught policy analysis and statistics at Columbia University, and American poverty and poverty policy, economics of health care, and economic security at Cornell University’s New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations. From 1984 to 1986 she was a budget analyst with the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare and also has been an analyst for a division of Abt Associates. Hanratty earned a doctorate degree in economics from Harvard University and a master of public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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Jacobs, Lawrence R.. (2007). The 1996 Welfare Reform and Its Impact Today. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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