Author (Your Name)

Aimee Williams, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Clifford Reid

Second Advisor

Michael Donihue

Third Advisor

Debra Barbezat


The first federal welfare program in the United States was established under the 1935 Social Security Act. The child welfare component of this bill was entitled Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). While only children were eligible to receive benefits, this program was partially intended to keep women out of the labor force during the depression so they would not take jobs that would otherwise go to men. In the 1950's and 1960's. this program was expanded to allow states to claim federal reimbursement for aid to unemployed parents and the spouse of an unemployed or incapacitated parent, becoming Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). These programs became mandatory in 1984 (A Brief History). The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which replaced AFDC with the current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, was controversial. Proponents argued that the refonns would help move families off welfare and would increase labor force participation by women on welfare. Since AFDe was initially structured to keep women out of the labor force. proponents asserted that it should be restructured to fit new goals and social standards. Opponents agued that it would put an unfair burden on families, who might not be able to survive without welfare benefits. The latter argument stemmed from the belief that women were not on welfare because they chose to be, but rather that they could not work and earn enough to support their families.


Public welfare -- Indiana, Public welfare -- Law and legislation -- Indiana, Family policy -- Indiana

Included in

Economics Commons