Case #782.0

California Welfare Reform

Publication Date: January 01, 1987
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In 1984, conservative secretary of the California Health and Welfare Agency David Swoap and liberal San Francisco assemblyman Art Agnos began to discuss work and job training programs that might shrink California's burgeoning welfare rolls and help welfare recipients toward self-sufficiency. The ensuing debate touched on all the essential elements of the welfare debate: Who receives welfare? What creates welfare dependency? Should able-bodied recipients be forced to work? Should they be eased off welfare with the help of job training programs and child care? Swoap and Agnos reviewed the pertinent scholarly literature, travelled to several states to see model workfare and job training programs, and consulted widely with influential California politicians. Then, in April 1985, they and other important executive and legislative actors sat down to design a program for California. This case sketches the situation in California that made welfare reform politically attractive, and outlines Swoap's and Agnos' views, and the information each used to bolster his case as they entered negotiations. It serves as a concise introduction to the welfare debate and as a vivid example of the role different values and social beliefs play in economic analysis.

Other Details

Case Author:
David Kennedy
Faculty Lead:
Jose Gomez-Ibanez
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Parker Gilbert Montgomery Endowment for Public Policy