The federal government’s antipoverty efforts failed to promote opportunity, self-sufficiency, and inclusion. Despite spending over $18 trillion on welfare since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, the poverty rate remains close to where it began more than 40 years ago. The welfare state fails to put individuals on the path to financial independence and self-sufficiency.

More on The Failures of Traditional Welfare


What’s Missing in the War on Poverty?

By Michael D. Tanner. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. January 23, 2019.

Many Americans Support Paid Family Leave — Until They See the Cost

By Vanessa Brown Calder. The Hill. December 21, 2018.

Kids, Courts, and the Indian Child Welfare Act

By Walter Olson. Ricochet. December 17, 2018.

Cato Studies

Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant and Native Use Rates and Benefit Levels for Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Programs

By Alex Nowrasteh and Robert Orr. Immigration Research and Policy Brief No. 6. May 10, 2018.

The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: Europe

By Michael D. Tanner and Charles Hughes. Policy Analysis No. 779. August 24, 2015.

The Pros and Cons of a Guaranteed National Income

By Michael D. Tanner. Policy Analysis No. 773. May 12, 2015.


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

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

Cato Reviews & Journals

Breaking the Barriers That Trap People in Poverty

Policy Report. November/December 2018.

Welfare: Savings Not Taxation

Roger Douglas and Robert MacCulloch. Cato Journal. Winter 2018.

The Case for a Targeted Criticism of the Welfare State

Leszek Balcerowicz and Marek Radzikowski. Cato Journal. Winter 2018.


The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor

Featuring Michael D. Tanner, Emily Ekins, and Jeff Vanderslice. April 8, 2019. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Statecraft and Liberal Reform in Advanced Democracies

Featuring Nils Karlson, John Samples, and Ian Vásquez. February 14, 2018. Book Forum.

The Welfare of Nations

Featuring James Bartholomew, Will Wilkinson, Sven R. Larson, & Michael D. Tanner. January 26, 2017. Book Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Food Subsidies

By Chris Edwards. May 2016.

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.