Welfare reform, which required that poor mothers work in return for assistance, was a watershed in the struggle against poverty in America. As work levels rose dramatically among low-income women, the welfare rolls were cut in half and many families escaped poverty. But men's employment is also crucial to uplifting families. Programs designed to promote work among poor men are currently underdeveloped and little understood by policymakers. Expanding Work Programs for Poor Men sets out a strategy for raising work levels among poor men. It makes the case that poor fathers, like welfare mothers, need 'both help and hassle.' That is, they need better benefits, but they must also be expected--and required--to help themselves.
Lawrence M. Mead explores the psychology of male nonwork and evaluates the successes and failures of existing work programs for poor men, some linked to child support and others to the criminal justice system. These programs show a potential to raise men's work levels--if well implemented. Mead also explains how best to implement the programs and why some states have led the others in developing them. The most successful programs appear to be those that are mandatory and work-focused while providing job placement and other assistance. Mead advocates combining work programs with improved wage subsidies, provided that men work steadily and pay child support. Finally, he recommends that the federal government cautiously expand men's work programs while conducting more evaluations to learn more about how best to design and run them.
Requiring poor men to work is as vital as welfare reform in ameliorating family poverty. This groundbreaking volume charts