The Public Interest

How workfare really works

Michael Wiseman

Fall 1987

AROUND MIDYEAR I counted—with the help of a computer database—the number of welfare and welfare/work articles that have appeared recently in major American newspapers. I covered the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Over the period 1983-86 these five papers together ran an average of 357 articles a year on welfare. Of these about twenty-one articles a year explicitly used the term “workfare.” During the first six months of this year these same periodicals ran 194 articles on welfare, thirty-three of which discussed workfare. Obviously, welfare and welfare-work programs are much in the news.

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