Welfare study shows ideas changing/Joined at the Heart -11/02
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Tue Nov 19 18:27:07 EST 2002
subject: Welfare study shows ideas changing/Joined at the Heart -11/02
from: Smart Marriages®
JOINED AT THE HEART:
I listened to Al and Tipper Gore discussing their two new books on family on
NPR¹s ³Fresh Air² this afternoon, and it was very inspiring.
Here are the links to listen to the interview and to the Gore¹s book:
- WELFARE STUDY SHOWS IDEAS CHANGING:
> The 1996 welfare law expired Sept. 30 and has been temporarily
> extended. On Thursday the House passed a bill to extend the welfare law
> to March 31. The Senate is expected to take up the issue this week.
November 17, 2002
Welfare study shows ideas changing
By Cheryl Wetzstein
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A new study in two states finds that welfare reform is discouraging
single mothers from having more children and encouraging them to think
"more seriously about getting married."
However, "fulfilling family aspirations is a problem for many in
this population," said David J. Fein, a welfare researcher at Abt
Associates Inc., which is based in Cambridge, Mass.
A "pretty substantial number of people" agree that welfare reform
has affected their thinking about family issues, he said. But a lot of
the women who said they wanted to marry, did not succeed in doing so, and
a lot of the women who said they didn't want to have more children, did
have more children.
The findings are in an Abt Associates report released this month
called "What Do They Think? Welfare Recipients' Attitudes Toward Marriage
The study found that 35 percent of 457 Delaware welfare mothers and
30 percent of 695 Indiana mothers agreed that "welfare reform made me
want to postpone or stop childbearing." (All the mothers were capable of
It also found that 14 percent of 702 single mothers in Delaware and
12 percent of 993 single mothers in Indiana agreed that "welfare reform
made me think more seriously about getting married."
However, interviews taken several years later showed that the
Delaware mothers' changes in attitude didn't always play out as intended:
Of mothers who expected to get married, 14 percent did.
Of mothers who said they didn't want to have any more children, 29
Having a change of attitude did make some difference in behavior,
though, researchers said.
For instance, mothers who began to take marriage more seriously were
more likely to marry than the mothers who didn't expect to wed (14
percent vs. 6 percent). And mothers who decided they wanted to postpone
having a baby were less likely to give birth than mothers who weren't
opposed to having another baby (29 percent vs. 43 percent).
"These findings show a clear association between initial
family-formation attitudes and behaviors," the Abt researchers said. "But
the associations are not overwhelming: Many people did not realize their
stated family-formation aspirations."
The researchers concluded that "policies of persuasion alone"
probably won't make much of a dent in single-parenting patterns and that
therefore government should stop trying to persuade welfare recipients to
get married and stop having children out of wedlock.
"Rather," they wrote, it would be better to improve welfare parents'
"marriage prospects," because "a lack of men with decent earnings in
low-income communities is another substantial impediment to marriage."
The unwed-childbearing issue could be addressed by "increasing
family planning access and education for both low-income women and men,"
The 1996 welfare reform law brought sweeping changes in the nation's
major social service network by refocusing it on work and the formation
of two-parent families.
Work and marriage continue to be the focus of Republicans, and the
Bush administration is expected to pressure the new Republican-led
Congress to pass a welfare reform bill that includes as much as $300
million a year for marriage education and activities.
The 1996 welfare law expired Sept. 30 and has been temporarily
extended. On Thursday the House passed a bill to extend the welfare law
to March 31. The Senate is expected to take up the issue this week.
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