Business Finance : Poverty and Public Policy

REMEMBER: 1200-1500 words, SUBMIT a PDF version

Writing Assignment #4: Work Disincentives and Welfare Programs

One of the main policy choices in designing and reforming safety net programs is whether to focus more on minimizing negative effects or on the level and nature of benefits provided. For this assignment, assume you are working in an agency that oversees welfare programs and write a memo that takes and defends a stand on the following question:

Are work disincentives and other negative effects a major problem for modern welfare programs in the United States?

Be sure your memo includes the following elements:

  • Consider not just cash assistance programs, but the broader set of safety net programs we have discussed. Discuss at least three different specific safety net programs in making your arguments.
  • Provide a summary of what we know about employment and/or employment problems among the poor in the U.S.
  • Include evidence from the course readings (and elsewhere if you’d like) but be sure to explain how well they apply to the welfare programs currently in place.
  • Explain why some programs discourage work (or why others do not) using both economic models and research on the magnitudes of these effects.
  • If you argue that work disincentives are not a major problem, make a case for what our goal should be (instead of reducing work disincentives) as we reform programs. If you argue that work disincentives are a major problem, provide at least one concrete step that would reduce the problem.

Be sure to think about the organization of your memo, use sub-headings when helpful, and think about the structure of individual paragraphs. Your memo should have an introduction and conclusion. Proofread carefully.

As always, include the total word count (not counting footnotes/citations) at the bottom of your memo. Convert the memo into pdf format before uploading to Canvas. Plagiarism will be reported to Student Judicial Affairs and will result in a grade of zero.

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