Does Getting Tough Reduce Poverty?

policy-matters-2Welfare reform has been called a success. President Bush’s proposals for further reform call for tougher work requirements for more people who get Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and for programs to encourage marriage for welfare recipients. But most parents receiving TANF are already working, while juggling childcare and jobs like everyone else. Those who are not married are usually single for good reasons, and marriage for money is not an option. Research on welfare reform done at the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon, in cooperation with the State of Oregon, shows that the real problem these single parents face is poverty, a result of low wages and insecure jobs, scarce and high-priced day care, and insufficient education for qualifying for better paying jobs. In this talk we’ll discuss the Oregon experience with welfare reform and what sort of welfare program might really help to reduce poverty.

For more information on this topic you can go to: and view on-line, Welfare Restructuring, Work & Poverty: Policy Implications from Oregon, or you may purchase a copy for $5 from the Center for the Study of Women in Society by clicking on CSWS publications.

Presenter Profile: Joan Acker, CSWS and Professor Emerita, Sociology

ackerJoan Acker is a professor, now retired, in the Department of Sociology at the UO. She grew up in Indiana and has lived in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, London, and Stockholm, Sweden. Eugene has been her base for the past forty years, however. She has studied women, work, and gender equality for much of that time; research that could have some practical use to the people participating in her studies. In the 1980s, she was on the State of Oregon Task Force on Pay Equity, helping with an exhaustive study of wage inequality among employees of the state. That study contributed to wage increases of many low-paid women workers. Joan is the co-author of, along with Sandra Morgen, a study entitled Welfare Restructuring, Work & Poverty: Policy Implications from Oregon, whose sample was more than 800 people who had received financial assistance from the state in 1998. Joan has received several national awards for her scholarly work.