Welfare and the Well-Being of Children

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An analysis of eight of the largest US welfare programmes affecting children. These programmes include Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the Food Stamp Program. Medicaid, housing assistance, supplemental feeding programmes such as WIC and School Lunch, Head Start and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Despite the fact that these programmes were designed to serve children, most discussion of welfare reforms focuses on the incentives that the welfare system creates for parents. This analysis represents an evaluation of the evidence regarding the effects of welfare programmes on the children themselves. Programmes such as Medicaid and Head Start have a larger effect on measures of child well-being than cash transfer programs such as AFDC. This suggests an economic rationale for the recent trend towards providing a larger proportion of assistance in-kind.