Poverty programs in recent decades has been transformed by the convergence of paternalistic and neoliberal approaches to administration. This has resulted in a devolution of program control to local jurisdictions. we seek to bridge this divide. Drawing on intensive field research and administrative data from the Florida Welfare Transition (WT) program, we present an empirically-grounded analysis of how organizations carry out the work of discipline in a decentralized, performancedriven policy system.
Numerous studies have confirmed that race plays an important role in shaping public preferences toward both redistribution and punishment. Likewise, studies suggest that punitive policy tools tend to be adopted by state governments in a pattern that tracks with the racial composition of state populations. Such evidence testifies to the enduring power of race in American politics, yet it has limited value for understanding how disciplinary policies get applied to individuals in implementation settings.
At least in Florida, we find that local discretion has increased in importance under TANF. We find significant variation in local practices and strong evidence that these differences are tied to local political values. We also find that social class variables are important in determing sanction outcomes. Individuals with lower levels of human capital are more likely to be sanctioned. Our analysis also underscores the potential importance of using a longitudinal design to study sanctioning outcomes.
There is spirited debate between those who maintain that public assistance to the poor decreases poverty by raising their incomes (an income enhancement effect) and those who contend that welfare increases poverty by discouraging the poor from working (a work disincentive effect). Extant studies have been inconclusive because they have focused on the effect of welfare benefits on the poverty rate, but have not employed designs that allow researchers to sort out distinct income enhancement and work disincentive effects.