From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure. Since the start of the War on Poverty in 1965, the United States has spent trillions trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for that massive investment is—primarily— more poverty.

Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers, who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church, and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for them and hope for their children.

More on Welfare


Message for the Pope: Caring for Poor Isn’t Communist, but Advancing Statism Misguided

By Daniel J. Mitchell. November 6, 2014.

The Welfare State

By Michael D. Tanner. National Review (Online). August 27, 2014.

Less Welfare, More Charity

By Michael D. Tanner. National Review (Online). August 20, 2014.

Cato Studies

War on Poverty Turns 50: Are We Winning Yet?

By Michael D. Tanner and Charles Hughes. Policy Analysis No. 761. October 20, 2014.

The ACA: Some Unpleasant Welfare Arithmetic

By Casey B. Mulligan. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 3. June 4, 2014.

SNAP Failure: The Food Stamp Program Needs Reform

By Michael D. Tanner. Policy Analysis No. 738. October 16, 2013.


Liberty, Responsibility, and Philanthropy: Individual Responsibility in a Free Society

Roger Pilon. Contemporary Philosophy. Vol. 27. No. 5. 1995.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Welfare Economics and Second-Best Theory: Filling Imaginary Economic Boxes

Richard E. Wagner. Cato Journal. Winter 2015.

The Entitlement ‘Crisitunity’

Ike Brannon. Regulation. Fall 2014.

Canada’s Fiscal Reforms

Chris Edwards. Cato Journal. Spring/Summer 2013.


Can We End Poverty?

Featuring John A. Allison and Michael D. Tanner. March 26, 2015. Conference.

Rising Costs of Social Security Disability

Featuring Tad DeHaven, Jagadeesh Gokhale, and Chris Edwards. August 20, 2013. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Disability Insurance: The New Welfare?

Featuring Jagadeesh Gokhale and Michael D. Tanner. June 19, 2013. Policy Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Employment and Training Programs: Ineffective and Unneeded

By Chris Edwards and Daniel Murphy. June 2011.

Failures of the Unemployment Insurance System

By Chris Edwards and George C. Leef. June 2011.

Trade Adjustment Assistance

By Sallie James. May 2011.