Ingrid Phillips Whitaker and Victoria Time




Devolution and Welfare: The Social and Legal Implications of State Inequalities for Welfare Reform in the United States

This article presents an analysis of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). Since the act is premised on federalist ideology, it is important to consider characteristics of states that influence how welfare policy decisions are made. After examining the federalist characteristics of PRWORA, the authors analyze the social and legal implications for welfare reform of inequalities between states. Federalism promotes shifting responsibility for certain social policies and programs from the federal government to the states. For proponents of federalism, giving states the authority to make decisions concerning programs promotes the creation of better programs since states are not constrained by federal guidelines that may inhibit innovation. The decentralization, or devolution, of decision-making that accompanies federalism is promoted as a means by which states can better identify and meet the needs of their populations.

social welfare, states — inequality, decentralization in government, equality — inequality, families, poverty, welfare reform — United States

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 28, No. 1 (2001): 76-90