Little examined elements in the welfare reform debate: The diminished male and the decreased value of education in the later market

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Marvin L. Cooke


* Originally printed in Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology 1998 26(1).

In the welfare reform debate in the 1990s, Republicans argued that government programs designed to give a helping hand breed illegitimacy, crime, illiteracy, and more poverty. Democrats focused on the changing labor market: High tech jobs have educational requirements that persons with little education or training cannot fill; therefore, welfare reform should target job training and education. Neither party looked at how the reorganization of the labor market negatively affected men more than women such that women had a reduced pool of employed males with livable wages as marriage partners. The loss of employed men with livable wages was found to account for increased levels of poor
families with dependent children headed by single females. Also, neither party accounted for the existence of more persons with educational requirements than there are positions requiring those requirements. The labor market continues to produce employment on both ends of the skill and wage spectrum. Thus, education and training do not necessarily translate to higher paying jobs as they did before the mid-1970s.

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