Canadian Social Research Links

Welfare in Canada vs the U.S.:
Apples and Oranges

Updated October 29, 2013
Page révisée le 29 octobre 2013

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Check out the links in this yellow box if you don't understand how welfare works in Canada and the U.S.

Canadian Social Safety Net 101:

Social Assistance in Canada: An Overview * (7 pages)
*This is the second chapter of:
Social Assistance Statistical Report: 2008
July 2011
[PDF version (608K, 141 pages) : http://www.wellington.ca/en/socialservices/resources/SocialAssistanceStatisticalReport2008.pdf ]
Produced by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Directors of Income Support
This report includes a description of, and statistics related to, the welfare system in each province and territory, information about federal-provincial-territorial jurisdictional and funding issues, a bit of historical info on the Canada Assistance Plan and the Canada Health and Social Transfer, etc.

Source:
[ Human Resources and Skills Development Canada ]

See also:

Social programs in Canada
From Wikipedia
Social programs in Canada include all government programs designed to give assistance to citizens outside of what the market provides. The Canadian social safety net covers a broad spectrum of programs, and because Canada is a federation, many are run by the provinces. Canada has a wide range of government transfer payments to individuals,

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

American Social Safety Net 101:

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and the Broader Safety Net (PDF - 907K, 11 pages)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/broader_safety.pdf
January 2012

Source:
Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE) -
[ http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/index.html ]
[ OPRE is part of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) -
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/index.html ]
[ ACF is part of Health and Human Services -
http://www.hhs.gov/ ]

PLUS:

General Assistance Programs : for those who are very poor and do not qualify for other public assistance.
See:
General Assistance Programs: Safety Net Weakening Despite Increased Need
HTML version:
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3603
PDF version (1MB, 19 pages):
http://www.cbpp.org/files/10-26-11pov.pdf
Source:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
http://www.cbpp.org/

See also:

Social programs in the United States
From Wikipedia
Social programs in the United States vary in eligibility requirements and are provided by various organizations on a federal, state, local and private level. They help to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare and money to U.S. citizens through primary and secondary education, subsidies of college education, unemployment disability insurance, subsidies for eligible low-wage workers, subsidies for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, pensions for eligible persons and health insurance programs that cover public employees. The Social Security system is the largest and most prominent social aid program. Medicare is another prominent program.



Welfare Dependence in America

NOTES:

1. "Welfare dependence" is the proportion of all individuals in families that receive more than half of their total family income in one year from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formerly the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program); the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps); and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program."
Source: Twelfth Report to Congress, page x
[ http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/Indicators/rpt.pdf ]

2. In Canada, the federal government contributes towards the cost of provincial/territorial welfare programs under the Canada Social Transfer.
In the U.S., the federal government contributes towards the cost of state programs providing time-limited financial assistance to families with children* under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program.

---
* I used the expression "time-limited financial assistance to families with children" in the above blurb because state programs under TANF are NOT comparable to Canadian social assistance programs on a number of levels.
Read on...

Welfare in America - Reports to Congress

Indicators of Welfare Dependence, Twelfth Annual Report to Congress, 2009-2013 (PDF- 2.1MB, 168 Pages)
http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/Indicators/rpt.pdf
March 2013
As directed by the Welfare Indicators Act, this report focuses on benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, formerly the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps); and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
TIP : See Appendix A of the report for 48 pages of program info and stats on these three programs (TANF - SNAP - SSI)

Source:
Indicators of Welfare Dependence, Annual Report to Congress (report main page)
The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study the most useful statistics for tracking and predicting dependence on three means-tested cash and nutritional assistance programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- includes links to earlier annual reports going back to 1997

- Indicators of Dependence include : Degree of Dependence - Receipt of Means-Tested Assistance and Labor Force Attachment - Rates of Receipt of Means-Tested Assistance - Rates of Participation in Means-Tested Assistance Programs - Multiple Program Receipt - Dependence Transitions - Program Spell Duration - Welfare Spell Duration with No Labor Force Attachment - Long-Term AFDC/TANF Receipt - Events Associated with the Beginning and Ending of Program Spells

- includes longitudinal and current caseload and expenditure data for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Food Stamp Program and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In addition, you'll find dozens of tables and charts showing predictors and risk factors associated with welfare receipt, such as : Poverty Rates - Deep Poverty Rates - Experimental Poverty Measures - Poverty Spells - Child Support - Food Insecurity - Lack of Health Insurance - Labor Force Attachment - Employment among the Low-Skilled - Earnings of Low-Skilled Workers - Educational Attainment - High School Dropout Rates - Adult Alcohol and Substance Abuse - Adult and Child Disability - Births to Unmarried Women/Teens - much more...

Earlier annual reports - back to 1997

Source:
Human Services Policy (HSP)
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation ASPE)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Complementary report from HHS:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) :
Ninth Report to Congress

June 1, 2012
Executive Summary
In 1996, Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This $16.5 billion a year block grant was enacted under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and other related welfare programs. Fostering self-sufficiency through work was a major goal of the 1996 reform, which required States and Territories to meet minimum levels of participation in work or work-related activities

This report describes the characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients and presents information regarding TANF caseloads and expenditures, work participation and earnings, State High Performance Bonus awards, child support collections, two-parent family formation and maintenance activities, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients, Tribal TANF and specific Provisions of State Programs.

Complete report:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) :
Ninth Annual Report to Congress
(PDF - 1.3MB, 173 pages)
[Excerpt] TANF caseloads declined slightly throughout FY 2007 and continued to decline from the official start of the recession in December 2007 through July 2008. TANF caseloads then began to rise. From the low in July 2008 through September 2009, close to 199,000 families were added to the TANF rolls, representing an increase of 12 percent.
Child-only cases continued to comprise a large fraction of the total TANF caseload. These are cases where no adult is included in the benefit calculation and only the children are aided. In FY 2009, child-only cases represented 48.1 percent of the total TANF caseload.

Appendix (PDF - 2.7MB, 421 pages)
June 2012
- includes detailed information and tables on the following aspects of welfare for able-bodied families with children in America :
Caseload - Expenditures and Balances - Work Participation Rates - Work and Earnings - High Performance Bonus - Child Support Collections - Formation and Maintenance of Married Two-Parent Families - Out-of-Wedlock Births - Child Poverty and TANF - Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients - Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Native Employment Works - Specific Provisions of State Programs - TANF Research and Evaluation - State Profiles

Source:
Administration for Children and Families
[ Department of Health and Human Services ]

CANADIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
REPORTS ABOUT WELFARE TABLED IN PARLIAMENT:

NONE.
ZILCH.
NADA.
NYET.

Under the Canada Assistance Plan ("CAP", 1966-1996), the federal Department of Health and Welfare was required by law to table, in the House of Commons, an annual report on the operation of welfare programs and social services in Canada, in the same manner as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presents annual reports on welfare dependence to Congress.

---
Annual Report of the Canada Assistance Plan for the Year Ending March 31, 1968:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/cap6768.htm
This 9-page report offers precious nuggets of historical information about the Canada Assistance Plan.
Recommended reading!
---

In April 1996, a block fund called the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) replaced CAP's 50-50 cost-sharing as the statutory mechanism for determining federal contributions to provincial/territorial welfare programs. [ See A History of the Health and Social Transfers] Neither the CHST nor its successor, the Canada Social Transfer (since April 2004), contains rules regarding the production of reports about welfare for tabling and discussion in the Parliament of Canada. In fact, the last national public report about welfare in Canada that was tabled and discussed in the House of Commons was the final CAP Annual Report for 1995-96. In my view, that's not much accountability for a program of this magnitude. The CST will cost the Canadian taxpayer almost $11 billion in 2009-10 in cash transfers alone, all without any debate or even discussion in the House of Commons.

Because the CST is a block fund, and because it covers post-secondary education, early learning and childcare as well as welfare and social services, it's no longer possible to calculate how much each province and territory receives annually from Ottawa specifically earmarked for welfare. That's why you won't see any Canadian equivalent to Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress in the near future. That, and the fact that there doesn't appear to be any political will by the ruling federal party to support provincial-territorial programs of last resort at this time.

Related reading from Finance Canada:

Federal Transfers to Provinces and Territories - updated January 2009
...everything you ever wanted to know about federal transfers.
(or what the Department of Finance wants you to know about federal transfers)


From the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Its Safety Net of Last Resort
http://www.offthechartsblog.org/pennsylvania-shuts-down-its-safety-net-of-last-resort/
August 1, 2012
Pennsylvania ended cash assistance today for very poor residents who cannot work and don’t qualify for other assistance, joining many other states that have scaled back or eliminated their General Assistance programs even as the need has grown. Roughly 60,000 childless adults (and the adult heads of some families) whom the state considers unemployable because of a disability or for certain other reasons — they are elderly, escaping domestic violence, or caring for a disabled family member, for example — got about $200 a month from the program.
Source:
Off the Charts Blog

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/

Related link:

General Assistance Programs: Safety Net Weakening Despite Increased Need
HTML version:

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3603
PDF version (1MB, 19 pages):
http://www.cbpp.org/files/10-26-11pov.pdf
By Liz Schott and Clare Cho
Updated December 19, 2011
State General Assistance programs, which provide a safety net of last resort for those who are very poor and do not qualify for other public assistance, have weakened considerably in recent decades and are continuing to do so, despite the large increase in need resulting from the recession. This report discusses how General Assistance Programs have been weakened over the years, with a closer look at actions in 2011 state legislative sessions, and provides an overview of program policies across the 30 states with programs in 2011.

Source:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
http://www.cbpp.org/
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

---------------------------------

CAVEAT (by Gilles):

The whole area of "State General Assistance programs" is but one of many reasons that no self-respecting social researcher would ever compare American and Canadian welfare systems without first defining the range of programs that fall under the definition of "welfare" in each country.

In Canada, financial assistance from provincial-territorial welfare programs is available to single childless individuals and families alike on the basis of financial need. Welfare benefits cover (up to legislated maximum amounts) food, shelter, clothing, personal and household needs, and specified regularly-recurring special needs. In addition to health care coverage, which is universal in Canada, each Canadian jurisdiction offers a range of assistance for special medical needs under its welfare program.


In order to compare Canadian and American welfare, the following American programs *must* be included:

* Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - welfare
* State General Assistance programs
* Medicaid
* SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps)
* Housing vouchers
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
* School lunch and breakfast programs
* Earned Income Tax Credit

About those TANF time limits on eligibility...

In the U.S., when a household times out of TANF welfare (between two and five years, depending on the state), they can still apply for some aid from the above programs and other state programs of last resort. If "timing out" were possible in Canada, individuals and families would have no other recourse except the back door of the local church. But there's no time limit on welfare in Canada ---- you can continue to receive welfare as long as you can prove financial need and you meet other eligibility requirements. The Government of British Columbia actually imposed a time limit in 2002 that was similar to what many U.S. states had adopted - two years of eligibility for welfare out of five.
The policy flopped.
For more on the BC welfare time limit policy, see the Canadian Social Research Links BC Welfare Time Limits Links page:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/bc_welfare_time_limits.htm

From the
TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ) and
CCDF (Child Care and Development Fund) Research Synthesis Project:

NOTE : The following synthesis briefs are PDF files varying in length from a few pages to 11 pages for the first file below. If you're not familiar with all of the components of the U.S. safety net, I highly recommend that you start with this first file, which explains how TANF fits into and interacts with the broader safety net.

TANF Research Synthesis Briefs:

* TANF and the Broader Safety Net, January 2012 (PDF - 907K, 11 pages)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/broader_safety.pdf

* How Has the TANF Caseload Changed over Time? (PDF - 181K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/change_time.pdf
March 2012

* Facilitating Postsecondary Education and Training for TANF Recipients, March 2012 (PDF - 283K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/postsecondary.pdf

* TANF Work Requirements and State Strategies to Fulfill Them, March 2012 (PDF - 204K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/work_requirements.pdf

* Improving Employment and Earnings for TANF Recipients, March 2012 (PDF - 245K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/improving_employment.pdf

* TANF Recipients with Barriers to Employment, August 2011 (PDF - 181K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/barries_employ.pdf

---

CCDF Research Synthesis Briefs:

* What Can CCDF Learn from the Research on Children's Health and Safety in Child Care? March 2012 (PDF - 346K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/synthesis_brief.pdf

* A Summary of Research on How CCDF Policies Affect Providers, March 2012 (PDF - 277K)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/policies_providers.pdf

* Client-Friendly Strategies: What Can CCDF Learn from Research on Other Systems? December 2011 (PDF - 248K]
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/reports/ccdf_learn.pdf

---

The above briefs were prepared for OPRE by
the Urban Institute [ http://www.urban.org/ ]
and MDRC [ http://www.mdrc.org/ ].

---

Source:
TANF and CCDF Research Synthesis Project

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/other_resrch/tanf_ccdf/index.html
The purpose of the TANF and CCDF Research Synthesis Project was to inform research planning and support evidence-based decision making related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) programs.

[ The TANF and CCDF Research Synthesis Project was an initiative of the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE) - http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/index.html ]
--- More OPRE Welfare & Employment Research links - http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/project/welfareProjects.jsp
[ OPRE is part of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) - http://www.acf.hhs.gov/index.html ]
[ ACF is part of Health and Human Services - http://www.hhs.gov/ ]

---

- Go to the Links to American Government Social Research Links page:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/us.htm

From the
U.S. Committee on Ways and Means of the
United States House of Representatives:

The “Green Book” :
Background Material and Data on Programs
within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means
http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/
March 2012
The Green Book published by the Committee on Ways and Means of the United States House of Representatives provides background material and data on the programs within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means.

This is the definitive authority on U.S. social security programs, in the opinion of many.

Selected link:

Chapter 7 : Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/2012-green-book/chapter-7-temporary-assistance-for-needy-families

Source:
Committee on Ways and Means
of the United States Congress

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/

TANF child-only cases
[Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]
By
Olivia Golden and Amelia Hawkins
2012
https://www.opressrc.org/content/tanf-child-only-cases
Abstract (excerpt):
Almost half of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cases are“child-only cases,” which arise when no adult is included in the benefit calculation. This exclusion can happen if children live with relatives (or, in some states, specified nonrelatives) instead of with their parents or if parents are ineligible for TANF for certain reasons other than income. (...)

Complete report (PDF - 184K, 9 pages)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/child_only.pdf

Source:
Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC)
https://www.opressrc.org/

____________

CAVEAT

NOTE (by Gilles):
The TANF child-only category is one of many reasons that Canadian and U.S. welfaresystems should not be compared out of context.
In Canada, there is a "child-only category" in some - but not all - provincial social assistance programs. That category, also known as Child in the Home of a Relative, applies only to children whose parents are unable to care for them, usually on a temporary basis. Nationally, the number of children receiving social assistance as a separate case and living with a relative is very low, hardly a blip. In other provinces, those same children would be placed in the care of a foster home or group home under the Child Welfare Act or similar statute.

Bottom line:

TANF child-only cases make up almost half of the TANF caseload in the U.S.
In Canada, child-only cases are rare in welfare programs.
This is only one reason to avoid comparing Canadian and American welfare systems.
They're simply not comparable out-of-context.

Keep reading below for more good reasons NOT to compare Canadian and American welfare systems.


Welfare in Canada is NOT the same as in the United States.

Here's why.

A Comparison of Canadian and American Welfare Reforms and
their Effects on Poverty After 1990
(PDF - 10.7MB, 9 pages)
http://economics.uwo.ca/undergraduate/undergraduatereview/undergraduatereview03/4_Karsh.pdf
March 2009
By Fern Karsh
Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario
---
By Gilles:
This undergrad paper that I found in a Google search result is a large download, but welfare historians will find it an interesting read. It offers a brief history of the funding mechanism for federal contributions to provincial-territorial welfare programs from the (1966) Canada Assistance Plan to the 1990 "cap on CAP" to the 1996 Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). It also contains a section on welfare reforms in Ontario starting in the mid-1990s with the Mike Harris Tories. There's a section on welfare reform in the U.S during the same period, and a conclusion that the U.S. had "greater success (than Canada) in reducing welfare rolls, unemployment and poverty."
Not so fast.
You can't compare American and Canadian welfare systems, nor the relative success of welfare reforms in both countries, without the necessary context. Tempting as it may be to assume that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families in the U.S. and the Canada Social Transfer are pretty much the same thing - a mechanism to stream federal funding to the lower order of government - it would be incorrect to do so, for a host of reasons. Below, I'll address mainly the caseload composition of both TANF and Canadian welfare programs.
Unlike the Canadian welfare system, state welfare programs under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)* initiative normally grant welfare ONLY to households with children, often headed by single mothers. They exclude all non-disabled single people and childless couples, who must apply instead to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program [ http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ ] and to residual aid programs where they live (if there are any such programs, which is not always the case). In Canada, singles and childless couples make up close to 60% of the total welfare caseload.
Moreover, state welfare programs receiving TANF funding exclude households headed by someone with a disability. In the U.S., people with disabilities must apply for assistance from the federal Social Security Disability program [ http://www.ssa.gov/disability/ ]. In Canada, we have the contribution-based Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit [ http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/oas-cpp/cpp_disability/index.shtml ], but provincial-territorial welfare programs also provide needs-tested assistance to people with disabilities - who currently make up about 35-40% of the national welfare caseload.
---
* TANF is the federal transfer for state welfare programs, the U.S. equivalent to the Canada Social Transfer, which replaced the CHST in 2004. However, there are important differences between the two funding mechanisms in addition to the target population as noted above. For one thing, the federal government in the U.S. imposes a number of conditions on state welfare programs under TANF (e.g., targets for work participation and child poverty), while the Harper Government™ imposes only a non-residency rule on provincial welfare programs (i.e., eligibility for provincial welfare cannot be based on residency in a particular province). Also, welfare under TANF is only *one* of several programs in the U.S. that must be taken into account when comparing U.S. "welfare" with the Canadian system.
---
In Canada, welfare covers food, shelter, clothing, personal and household needs, and specified regularly-recurring special needs. In addition to health care coverage, which is universal in Canada, each Canadian jurisdiction offers a range of assistance for special medical needs under its welfare program. In order to compare Canadian and American welfare, the following American programs *must* be included:
* TANF welfare
* Medicaid
* SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps)
* Housing vouchers
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
* School lunch and breakfast programs
* Earned Income Tax Credit

In the U.S. when a person or family times out of TANF welfare (between two and five years, depending on the state), they can still apply for some aid from the above programs and other state programs of last resort. If "timing out" were possible in Canada, individuals and families would have no other recourse except the back door of the local church. But there's no time limit on welfare in Canada ---- you can continue to receive welfare as long as you can prove financial need and you meet other eligibility requirements. The Government of British Columbia actually imposed a time limit in 2002 that was similar to what many U.S. states had adopted - two years eligibility for welfare out of five.

For more info about this draconian Canadian (BC) welfare time limit policy and how it bombed, see:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/bc_welfare_time_limits.htm

---

For more information about TANF, see:
http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/tanf/tanf-overview.html

For more information about Canadian welfare programs under the Canada Social Transfer, see:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/cap.htm

For more information about welfare and welfare reforms in Canada, see:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/welref.htm

The Bottom Line:

Canadian and American welfare systems are like apples and oranges.
They shouldn't be compared without situating each system in its appropriate context.

MORE reasons why you shouldn't compare Canadian and American welfare out of context

Welfare in Canada

In Canada, social assistance or welfare is available on the basis of financial need.
[ How welfare works in Canada - from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada]
[ How welfare works in Ontario - Canada's largest province]
[ Welfare information for each province and territory ]
[ The Constitutional federal role in Canadian welfare ]

---

Welfare in the United States:

From Wikipedia:

United States Welfare State
The United States welfare state refers to those institutions, supported or managed by the U.S. government, that aim to ensure economic security, universal access to the resources for self-development and the reduction of social suffering, such as poverty and illness

Welfare
An historical perspective and a brief overview of welfare systems in a half-dozen countries, including Canada and the U.S.

***********************

Welfare services in the United States have traditionally been more limited than those in European nations. As one author writes, "compared with most other rich capitalist societies, the American welfare state is more market-conforming."

Welfare assistance of various kinds is provided in the United States partly by the federal government and partly by state governments. Federal welfare and public assistance spending is provided by federal government agencies, such as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Health and Human Services, through special programs to recipients.

In the United States, personal welfare is normally given to households with children, often headed by single mothers. Since the landmark federal welfare reform act in 1996 (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act), individual recipients are limited to a lifetime maximum of five years cumulative for receiving federal welfare of all types. Before 1997, United States personal welfare for households with children was first named Aid to Dependent Children, which was later called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). It was administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 1996-97 as part of welfare reform, AFDC was replaced by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which included more limits on the amount of time an individual or family can receive welfare. Since 1996, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has largely replaced AFDC as the primary anti-poverty program in the United States.

While not termed "welfare" in the USA, there are a variety of other personal transfer payments which are financial assistance programs; examples of such transfer payments are unemployment compensation (which, unlike welfare, is not means-tested and is prepaid by employers before job loss) and tobacco taxes, part of which are disbursed for hospital care for the needy (as well as the general public).


It is important to note that even prior to the 2008-2009 economic downturn, TANF was not accessible to many families who needed it. In 2005, the TANF cash assistance program served only about 40 percent of eligible families compared to 80 percent of eligible families in 1995.

[ Testimony: LaDonna Pavetti, Director of Welfare Reform and Income Support, on the Safety Net’s Response to the Recession
Before the House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support - October 8, 2009]
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2945

With regard to personal welfare for individuals without children, most U.S. states had been providing welfare or assistance benefits to single adults and childless married couples since the Great Depression, but the number of states doing so declined steeply during the 1990s, and many of the states that still provide such benefits use methods other than cash payments to render the assistance. For example, many California counties currently provide only vouchers. At present, only a few states — New Jersey, Utah and Minnesota among them — still provide cash benefits to poverty-stricken adults who do not have child dependents. These programs were often known officially by such names as Home Relief, General Assistance, or General Relief.

Welfare is financial assistance paid to people by governments. Some welfare is general, while specific and can only be invoked under certain circumstances, such as a scholarship. Welfare payments can be made to individuals or to companies or entities--these latter payments are often considered corporate welfare.

Individuals may apply for welfare due to disability, lack of education or job training, a low demand for unskilled labor, or substance abuse. Assistance may also take the form of other relief, such as tax credits for working mothers.

Welfare is known by a variety of names in different countries, all with the avowed purpose of providing an economic or social safety net for disadvantaged members of society. Almost all developed nations provide some kind of safety net of this kind; nations where such programs are especially prominent are known as welfare states.

The desired outcome and purpose of welfare varies. For welfare for the non-disabled, the purpose often is to prevent complete destitution. Welfare or assistance for the disabled, in contrast, does not eventually expect non-dependency, and the justification is more philosophical.

"Corporate welfare," usually in the form of favorable tax policy, is sometimes used in order to provide capital to an industry that the government perceives needs financial assistance in order to survive or to expand, or which the government wishes to support for political or economic purposes.

Some of these ideal outcomes and purposes, as well as welfare's effectiveness have been challenged by political lobbies such as those who oppose big government and "forced charity", such as minarchists or libertarians.

The amounts paid to recipients are typically modest, and may fall below the poverty line. Recipients must usually demonstrate a low level of income such as by way of "means testing", or financial hardship, or that they satisfy some other requirement such as childcare responsibilities or disability.

Those receiving unemployment benefits may also have to regularly demonstrate that they are periodically searching for employment. Some countries assign specific jobs to recipients who must work in these roles in order for welfare payments to continue. In the United States and Canada, such programs are known as workfare.

---------------------------

"Eligibility for TANF assistance is limited to pregnant women and families with children."
Source:
Almanac of Policy Issues - Welfare


Social assistance: What North American reforms can teach us (PDF file - 250K, 4 pages)
January 2007
Economic Note on the social assistance reforms instituted in the United States and in some Canadian provinces
[ version française : Aide sociale: les leçons des réformes nord-américaines (fichier PDF - 258Ko, 4 pages)

Related links:

Four out of five people in Quebec say social assistance should be fully conditional
- Success elsewhere shows the way to social assistance reform

Media Release
January 25, 2007
With Quebec reigning as North American social assistance champion, behind only Newfoundland and the District of Columbia, economist Norma Kozhaya of the Montreal Economic Institute says social assistance could be reformed in a way that would reduce dependency and poverty among persons fit for work. This change could draw insight from measures applied successfully in parts of Canada and in many U.S. states.

Quebeckers’ opinion on social assistance payments (PDF file - 89K, 4 pages) [dead link]
January 2007
According to a Léger Marketing poll released today, 80% of people in Quebec would agree to having social assistance taken away from recipients who are fit for work and who refuse to take part in job preparation programs such as studies, training or community work.

Source:
Montreal Economic Institute
The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research and educational institute. Since 1999, it endeavours to promote an economic approach to the study of public policy issues. The MEI's mission is to propose original and innovative solutions for the crafting of efficient public policies, using successful reforms applied elsewhere as models. The MEI studies how markets function with the aim of identifying the mechanisms and institutions which foster the prosperity and long-term welfare of all the individuals which make up our society. The MEI is the product of a collaborative effort between Montreal-area entrepreneurs, academics and economists. The Institute does not accept any public funding.
[ Source: Who Are We ]

Editorial Comment
Canadian and American welfare systems are different from one another, a fact that the Montreal Economic Institute and its ideological soulmate on the Canadian West Coast, the Fraser Institute, willfully and consistently ignore in their welfare reform reports. After reading this short report on how *swell* the American state governments (along with Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia) have been doing in reducing their welfare caseloads, I note that the most important bit of text is actually in a text box on page 2, i.e., "In the United States, financial assistance for adults without children and without work constraints does not exist at the federal level and is very limited at the state level."

Unlike the Canadian welfare system, state welfare programs under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) initiative exclude single people and childless couples, who must apply to the national Food Stamp program and to residual aid programs where they live (if there are any such programs, which is not always the case), as well as people with disabilities (who must apply under the separate American Social Security program). In Canada, singles and childless couples make up close to 60% of the total welfare caseload and households headed by people with disabilities account for about a third of the total caseload. These are just a few of the more significant reasons why Canadian welfare shouldn't be compared with American programs under TANF.

What North American reforms can teach us informs us that in 2002, British Columbia became the only jurisdiction in Canada to set time limits (24 mo. in any 60-month period) on social assistance eligibility for recipients who were fit for work. I guess the author of WNARCTU didn't get a chance to read more recent reports of her Fraser Institute pals --- in a February 2004 commentary, the Fraser Institute bemoaned BC's "backtracking" on its welfare reforms, effectively nullifying the time limit rule by exempting any client who was complying with his/her recovery/action/work plan. The absence of that bit of info in WNARCTU taints the analysis, no?

---------------------------

Welfare Reform: The U.S. Experience (PDF file - 296K, 50 pages)
Revision of a paper prepared for the Economic Council of Sweden conference, “From Welfare to
Work,” Stockholm, May 7, 2007.
Discussion Paper no.1334-08
By Robert Moffitt
February 2008
Abstract
The reform of the cash-based welfare program for single mothers in the U.S. which occurred in the 1990s was the most important since its inception in 1935. The reforms imposed credible and enforceable work requirements into the program for the first time, as well as establishing time limits on lifetime receipt. Research on the effects of the reform have shown it to have reduced the program caseload and governmental expenditures on the program. In addition, the reform has had generally positive average effects on employment, earnings, and income, and generally negative effects on poverty rates, although the gains are not evenly distributed across groups. A fraction of the affected group appears to have been made worse off by the reform.
Source:
Institute for Research on Poverty (University of Wisconsin)

A caveat for those who would compare Canadian and American welfare systems:

"(...)Finally, another overarching issue in the U.S. is the relative lack of programs and services made available to unskilled prime age males, both married and unmarried. Most transfer programs exclude them, with the exception of the EITC for those with dependents, and Food Stamps is a major exception that provides universal support." (Excerpt from Welfare Reform, p.41)

In Canada, "prime age males" may apply for welfare like any other person in need.

---------------------------

US public assistance programs have always been different. Even compared to Canada — which also has a federalist system with strong provincial control of social assistance programs — US benefits are lower, they are less universalistic, and social insurance programs are less generous. In addition, the US economy has been markedly stronger than most other economies in this past decade, with higher job growth and greater declines in unemployment. Hence, it may be dangerous to try and draw strong cross-national conclusions based on US experiences.
Source:
What Can Other Countries Learn about Fighting Poverty from US Welfare Reform? (PDF file - 127K, 24 pages)[dead link]
2000
Rebecca M. Blank

---------------------------

From MyWay (U.S. News portal):

[U.S.] Welfare State Growing Despite Overhauls
February 26, 2007
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid. The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees. (...) Critics of the welfare overhaul say the numbers offer fresh evidence that few former recipients have become self-sufficient, even though millions have moved from welfare to work. They say the vast majority have been forced into low-paying jobs without benefits and few opportunities to advance. (...) In 2005, about 5.1 million people received monthly welfare payments from TANF and similar state programs, a 60 percent drop from a decade before. But other government programs grew, offsetting the declines. About 44 million people - nearly one in six in the country - relied on government services for the poor in 2003, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the Census Bureau. That compares with about 39 million in 1996. Also, the number of people getting government aid continues to increase, according to more recent enrollment figures from individual programs. Medicaid rolls alone topped 45 million people in 2005, pushed up in part by rising health care costs and fewer employers offering benefits. Nearly 26 million people a month received food stamps that year. Cash welfare recipients, by comparison, peaked at 14.2 million people in 1994.

- Go to the Links to American Non-Governmental Social Research (M-Z) Links page:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/us3.htm



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