No, Welfare Isn’t Really the Problem

The Public Interest, Summer 1986.


Ellwood and Lawrence Summers’s article “Is Welfare Really the Problem?” (Spring 1986) exemplifies a continuing problem that clouds debate about the underclass. On one side are scholars like myself who have advanced over the last decade explanations for illegitimacy and chronic unemployment that include welfare among their causes. Our accounts have generally been expository and speculative. On the other side are scholars who have been attempting to demonstrate that welfare per se does not cause illegitimacy and chronic unemployment. Their accounts have generally been quantitative and presented as refutations of the critics.

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