Welfare reform: Recent policy and politics

Lawrence M. Mead

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Public policy research has not combined policy and political analysis as its pioneers imagined. Mostly, political scientists study just the policy process, abandoning prescriptions to policy specialists. A better approach is to combine policy and political analysis, using positions on issues to assess policymaking, and vice versa. This article illustrates that approach by applying it to recent welfare reform. I take raising work levels as the chief goal of reform and assess the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 against it. FSA was a timid compromise that achieved little while PRWORA was a conflicted measure that achieved more, but at unnecessary risk. I also ask how the tensions between best policy and politics might be resolved. This approach makes public policy research more relevant to the real stakes in policymaking. [142 words.].

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)204-237
    Number of pages34
    JournalReview of Policy Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Public Administration
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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