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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2010): Social security - overseas

Experimental evidence of welfare reform impact on clinical anxiety and depression levels among poor women

R. Jagannathan, M.J. Camasso and U. Sambamoorthi

Social Science and Medicine, vol. 71, 2010, p. 152-160

This paper examines the claim that any welfare reform which requires women on public assistance to work and/or enrol in job training causes increases in their psychological distress, particularly anxiety and depression, using data from the New Jersey Family Development Program (FDP). A sample of 8393 women were randomly assigned to two groups, one which stressed welfare-to-work and one which offered traditional benefits. These women were followed from 1992 to 1996 and information on clinical diagnoses was collected quarterly from physician treatment claims to Medicaid. Intention-to-treat estimates show that for short-term welfare recipients FDP decreased the prevalence of anxiety by 40% and increased depression by 8%. For Black women both anxiety and depression declined while Hispanic women experienced a 68% increase in depression.

Interrupting the intergenerational cycle of poverty with the Malawi Social Cash Transfer

C.M. Miller and others

Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, vol. 5, 2010, p. 108-121

This study examines the potential of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Scheme (SCTS) to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in very poor and labour-constrained households. Children (n=163) from cash transfer households attended 16 focus groups in village groups where the scheme was operational. The children were asked to describe the changes in their lives that resulted from their households becoming cash transfer recipients. Participants reported that the cash allowed them to gain access to goods and materials, including food, healthcare, clothing, school supplies, blankets, housing and livestock. They described positive changes in their lives, including providing less labour for the household, allocating more time to schooling, enjoying adequate food, and accessing healthcare. They also described better mental health, with new hopes and dreams for the future. These changes have the potential to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Should liberal feminists support 'paternafare' and welfare reform? A capabilities-oriented abalysis

A.M. Smith

Politics and Gender, vol. 6, 2010, p. 247-269

Many champions of welfare reform in the United States seek to justify it on the basis of liberal democratic principles on the grounds that the changes are freeing poor single mothers from an oppressive cycle of dependency on state benefits. This article assesses the merits of this position using Maria Nussbaum's capabilities approach, focusing on one aspect of welfare reform, namely 'paternafare'. This requires low income single mothers to name the father(s) of their children and assist the state in pursuing him/them for child maintenance.

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