Welfare Reform: A History Lesson

Welfare Reform: A History Lesson

When people say “welfare” today, they mostly refer to AFDC, the program for single parents and their children. These single parents are mostly mothers, of course, and the current vilification of welfare recipients and their “dependency” is directed primarily at women. The definition of the welfare problem is thus feminized, although this is not always acknowledged. Take the concern about teenage pregnancy as an example: the propaganda and the proposed solutions might lead someone who didn’t know better to assume that these were immaculate conceptions because only the mothers are discussed. Indeed, early drafts of the Clinton administration’s welfare reform proposal cite teen pregnancy as creating the very need for welfare—as if by remaining chaste or using birth control these

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels