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September 1987

December 1987

League Honors Mason and Saunders
From the President (Anne Lee)
Meet the Board
Update: State Convention
Blessings of Liberty
New Education Position
Hawaii's Agriculture (Jim Koshi)
Drinking Water Perception Survey (Kiyoko Nitz)
Update: Natural Resources (Kiyoko Nitz)
Test Your Welfare I.Q.
State PMP: How We Compare
Update on Contributions

Test Your Welfare I.Q.

Across the Nation, the League is involved in a Meeting Basic Human Needs Study, a study and evaluation of existing and proposed federal policies and programs designed to meet the needs of the nation's poor. The following "welfare quiz" is excerpted from one circulated by Rep. Thomas J. Downey (D NY), acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Assistance.


1. Under which American president was the poverty rate the lowest?

  1. Nixon
  2. Ford
  3. Carter
  4. Reagan

2. Today, how many American children live in poverty?

  1. 1 out of 20
  2. 1 out of 10
  3. 1 out of 5

3. What percent of all Americans are long-term (8 to 10 years) welfare dependent?

  1. 15 percent
  2. 7 percent
  3. Less than one percent

4. What is the most common reason a woman with children ends up receiving AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children)?

  1. A childless, unmarried woman becomes a parent.
  2. A married woman divorces or separates from her spouse.
  3. The mother's earnings decline.

5. What percent of all first-time adult AFDC recipients worked during the previous two years before receiving welfare?

  1. 15 percent
  2. 37 percent
  3. 66 percent

6. In most states, AFDC benefits are adjusted annually for inflation.

  • True or False

7. Federal benefits such as cash assistance, food stamps, and subsidized housing can help a family escape poverty. In 1985, these benefits removed more families from poverty than in 1979.

  • True or False


1. a. Nixon. The national poverty rate was at its lowest in recent history in 1973 when 11.1 percent of Americans were poor. In 1985, the latest year for which data are available, the overall poverty rate was 14 percent.

2. c. 1 out of 5.

3. c. Less than one percent. Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for 1970-79 and found that only 0.7 percent of all Americans were long-term dependent on welfare.

4. b. A married woman divorces or separates. According to a study by Mary Jo Bane and David Ellwood of Harvard University, 45 percent of AFDC case openings occur because of a divorce or separation. An out-of-wedlock birth to an unmarried woman with no other children is the reason for 30 percent of AFDC case openings. Only 12 percent of families turn to AFDC because the mother's earnings decline.

5. c. 66 percent. According to a study by David Ellwood, 66 percent of first-time AFDC recipients worked in the two years before receiving AFDC benefits.

6. False. Since 1970, AFDC benefits have kept pace with inflation in only three states - California, Maine, and Wisconsin. Benefits have declined an average of 33 percent in all other states since 1970.

7. False. Even when in-kind benefits are considered, fewer families with children were removed from poverty in 1985 than in 1979 - 5.3 million versus 3.9 million.

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