The Transformation in Who Is Expected to Work in the United States and How it Changed the Lives of Single Mothers and People with Disabilities

In the 1990s, social expectations of single mothers shifted towards the notion that most should, could, and would work, if given the proper incentives. This shift in expectations culminated in the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, commonly known as welfare reform. As a result, ADFC/TANF caseloads fell along with cash transfers to single mothers who did not work. A decade later the earnings and household income of single mothers are significantly higher and moving more in synch with the U.S. economy.

In stark contrast and despite espoused goals to the contrary, public policies toward working age men and women with disabilities have remained imbued with the notion that most cannot and thus, would not work, no matter what incentives they faced. As a result, SSDI/SSI expenditures and caseloads have increased and the earnings and household income of working age men and women with disabilities have fallen, leaving them even further behind the average working age American than they were a decade ago.

Using data from the Current Population Survey we follow the economic well-being and employment of single mothers and working age men and women with disabilities over the past two major United States business cycles (1982-1993 and 1993-2004) and show that despite the dramatic decline in AFDC/TANF funding, single mothers' economic well-being, labor earnings and employment all have risen substantially. In contrast, despite the dramatic increase in SSDI/SSI funding, the economic wellbeing of working age men and women with disabilities remained stagnant, as their labor earnings and employment plummeted. . . .

Download file Click here to view this paper as and Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Richard Burkhauser is a visiting scholar at AEI. Mary C. Daly is the Dean and professor of law and ethics at St. John's University. Jeff Larrimore is a research assistant at Cornell University. Joyce Kwok works in the economic research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Richard
Burkhauser

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.