• Randy Albelda

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2003


  • Income
  • Low Wage Workers
  • Public Policy
  • Social Support
  • Welfare


  • `Economics


This entry discusses the relationship between welfare policies and recent changes to them (usually called welfare reform) and the field of work-family studies. While the term welfare has been used broadly internationally, in the United States it most often refers to the cash assistance program currently known as TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). This program replaced the former AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) in the wide-ranging 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). States enacted sweeping changes to welfare policies both before and after the enactment of TANF. AFDC was enacted in the 1935 Social Security Act. At that time, the legislation recognized that, at least white, mothers were not expected to be employed and that lone mothers were very unlikely to earn enough to support families (Gordon, 1994). Welfare policies most directly affect single-parent families with children. To be eligible for welfare, families must have children, be poor and have few or no assets. Prior to 1990, states could exclude payments to poor two-parent families. Income eligibility is set by each state but most set them at or below the official poverty income threshold (in 2002, this annual amount was $14,072 for a family of three).

Link:Welfare_Reform-Work-Family_Studies encyclopedia