This timely collection presents research contributing to the ongoing debate over welfare reform in the 1990s. Some chapters argue that the law will lead states to restrict benefits out of fear of becoming “welfare magnets.” Other chapters assert that no such shift is taking place. Still others point to evidence that states are serving as “laboratories of democracy.”

Most chapters were prepared for a conference at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and published as a special edition of the journal Publius. They have been supplemented by two new chapters, a new introduction by Sanford F. Schram, and an index.

Sanford F. Schram is a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. Samuel H. Beer is Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Emeritus, Harvard University.


1. Introduction
Sanford F. Schram

2. Welfare Reform: Revolution or Retrenchment?
Samuel H. Beer

3. Interstate Competition and Welfare Policy
Mark Carl Rom, Paul E. Peterson, and Kenneth F. Scheve Jr.

4. Comment on Interstate Competition and Welfare Policy
Frances Fox Piven

5. Welfare Reform and the Political Geography of Poverty
Margaret Weir

6. Revisiting Shapiro: Welfare Magnets and State Residency Requirements in the 1990s
Scott W. Allard

7. Making Something Out of Nothing: Welfare Reform and a New Race to the Bottom
Sanford F. Schram and Joe Soss

8. Watching the Race: Where You Sit Affects What You See
Irene Lurie

9. Already Hit Bottom: General Assistance, Welfare Retrenchment, and Single Male Migration
Thomas Vartanian, Joe Soss, Sanford F. Schram, and Jim Baumohl

10. Early Findings About the Newest New Federalism for Welfare
Richard P. Nathan and Thomas L. Gais

11. Welfare Reform in Delaware: “A Better Chance” for Whom?
Karen A. Curtis

12. Implementing Welfare Reform in Kansas: Moving, But Not Racing
Jocelyn M. Johnston and Kara Lindaman

13. Predictions, Patterns, and Policymaking: A Regional Study of Devolution
Richard M. Francis

14. The Impact of Welfare Reform on Medicaid
Saundra K. Schneider

15. Prospects for Low-Income Mothers’ Economic Survival Under Welfare Reform
Barbara Gault, Heidi Hartmann, and Hsiao-Ye Yi


“These essays provide valuable information on the strategies used by different states to accomplish the goal of moving low-income families from welfare to work. The overwhelming lesson for this reader is how quickly the structural factors that lead to poverty are overshadowed by bureaucratic concerns.”—Nancy Naples, Journal of Progressive Human Services