A closer review of the research, however, reveals that the celebration of welfare reform has been premature and that the new law, in fact, merits fundamental restructuring. A survey of welfare reform’s progress to date suggests that the 1996 legislation, although moderately successful in reducing the disincentive to leave welfare, has produced few gains in self‐sufficiency and done little to discourage women from making the choices that cause them to enter the welfare rolls in the first place:
- Welfare reform has been largely unsuccessful in moving long‐term unemployed, difficult‐to‐place individuals off cash assistance.
- Welfare reform is failing to make individuals self‐sufficient.
- Welfare reform has failed to significantly curb out‐of‐wedlock births to young women.
Overall, the new welfare law is a second‐best solution to welfare dependence. Until policymakers take a preventive approach and make welfare no longer available to, or an attractive option for, women considering making untenable life choices, the country will continue to spend endless taxpayer dollars trying to clean up its dependence problem.