Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book critiques work-based safety net

A book just released by the Russell Sage Foundation reassesses U.S. labor market policies and examines eight areas of the safety net where current policies and institutions should be changed to improve the prospects of low-income families. La Follette School director Carolyn Heinrich edited the book, Making the Work-Based Safety Net Work Better, with University of Wisconsin-Madison economist John Karl Scholz.

"Putting work first was the core idea behind the 1996 federal welfare reform, legislation, but this goal collides with reality," Heinrich says. "The degree to which work provides a way out of poverty depends greatly on the ability of low-skilled people to maintain stable employment and make progress toward an income that provides an adequate standard of living."

The book, published by the Russell Sage Foundation, examines eight areas where the safety net fails families and describes how current policies and institutions could evolve to enhance their self-sufficiency.