Top Truths About Welfare

Many websites highlight the top myths about welfare. We wanted to avoid reinforcing these myths and instead address what we know about welfare. Our goal is to move beyond the rhetoric and provide a clear, fair assessment of welfare and welfare recipients based on reliable data.

There are lots of truths about welfare and we cannot include them all here. So we started with widespread perceptions about welfare drawn from two places: 1) surveys and polls of the American public over the past decade, and 2)  extensive fieldwork in Alamance County, North Carolina where we talked to members of the general public, politicians, grocery clerks, aid providers and aid recipients.

In some cases, the perceptions were supported by the data; more often, they were not. Either way, the truth about welfare is complicated. What follows is an attempt to distinguish fact from fiction and provide a fair picture of welfare and welfare recipients.

Truth #1 – No one gets rich on welfare.

Truth #2 – Economic dependence is caused by poverty…not welfare

Truth #3 – Welfare goes to the needy: often children, women and ethnic minorities

Truth #4 – Most aid recipients want to work, and many do.

Truth #5 – There are many reasons women have children; increased benefits isn’t one of them.

Truth #6 – Alcohol and drug abuse spans all classes: rich, poor and in between.