WMU News

Has welfare reform worked?

Feb. 11, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Welfare reform was one of the Bill Clinton's legacies. But is it a legacy he'd like to remember or forget? A visiting scholar will attempt to answer this question at an upcoming economics lecture at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Rebecca Blank, the Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, and the dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, will present "What Have We Leaned from Welfare Reform," at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, in Room 3508 of Knauss Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of WMU's Visiting Scholars and Artists Program and is sponsored by the Department of Economics.

"Even after three years of slow economic growth, welfare caseloads are far below where they were 10 years ago, while labor force participation among single mothers is up dramatically," says Blank. "As always, however, there are different interpretations of these numbers."

Her talk will focus on the new climate of welfare, the resulting behavioral changes that have followed, and the different perspectives used in interpreting the overall impact of reforms. Blank's research focuses on the relationships between the economy, government anti-poverty programs, and the behavior and well-being of low income families. She is the author of such books as "It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty," in which she analyzed the debate about poverty and public policy in the United States, and "Social Protection vs. Economic Flexibility: Is There a Trade Off?" In that book, she compared social protection programs in the United States with those in other industrialized nations.

The Visiting Scholars and Arts Program at WMU was established in 1960 and has supported more than 500 visits by scholars and artists representing some 65 academic disciplines. The chairperson of the committee that oversees the program is Carol Bennett, instructor in the Department of Business Information Systems.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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