The Decline of Welfare in Wisconsin

Lawrence M. Mead

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The recent fall in the national welfare rolls suggests that mandatory work programs can reduce dependency by more than evaluations suggest. The nonexperimental literature does not test that possibility well. This study uses field interviewing and program data more fully than previously to portray the forces that shape caseload decline. It focuses on Wisconsin, the state with the most dramatic caseload decline. A time series analysis of the state caseload trend from 1986 to 1994 suggests that good economic conditions and benefit cuts help to account for the caseload decline, but much remains unexplained. Cross-sectional analyses comparing counties find strong evidence that demanding work and child support requirements also helped drive the caseload down. The policy implications are mixed. Reform Wisconsin-style appears successful to date, but it makes heavy political and administrative demands on government.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)597-622
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Public Administration
    • Marketing


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