An Evaluation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from the Catholic Social Teaching Perspective
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Any evaluation of an economic policy necessarily involves a normative foundation or a moral perspective. Traditional economic theory often attempts to remain value-free, but it often fails to do so in the sub discipline of welfare economics despite its claims otherwise. Catholic Social Teaching presents one normative foundation with which to evaluate economic policy. Catholics do and are allowed to disagree over the effectiveness of specific policies, but they cannot disagree with the moral teachings of the Church and remain Catholic. This research examines the common foundation of the disparate views within Catholic Social Thought and then applies that moral perspective toward an evaluation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the cash-assistance welfare program in the United States. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families was introduced in the 1990s with the intent of reducing welfare dependency through more restrictive policies. Evidence is mixed on its effectiveness of achieving this self-stated goal. This research set out to evaluate the policy’s effectiveness at reducing welfare dependency by estimating the impact of the relative policy restrictiveness across states and over time on the recipient’s success after receiving assistance using panel data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. The results indicate that the policy has not effectively reduced welfare dependency and does not meet several basic criteria for a just society according to Catholic Social Teaching.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Examination of TANF -- Econometric evaluation of TANF -- The conditions for a good and just society according to Catholic social teaching -- Evaluating the goals, policy specifics, and effects of TANF from a Catholic perspective