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Here’s a decent research topic for interested students: find out how large the take-up rates for various welfare programs are by different demographic groups. Why do I ask? My sense is that a decent (apx 20%) share of the users of food-stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare programs are not from the class of needy folks that many of us would imagine draw on these programs.

Ask yourselves – when you learn that something like 1/3 of our students will graduate into full-time permanent jobs, while the rest volunteer, attend graduate school, work in low-paying non-profits, do Teach for America and other similar endeavors, do you think that none take advantage of these public programs. How do you think the voting public would respond to finding out that after enrolling in an elite college which spends $70,000 per year to educate students, that a non-negligible number of graduates end up doing this? How would the voting public feel if they knew this was a regularity for students who were obtaining generous financial aid from state and federal sources too?

I speak from having some pretty good inside information on usage. Would any readers view this as a problem? I ask because I find that I get seriously serious opposition to negative income tax-like proposals that I would prefer to see replace the entire welfare state.

2 Responses to “Welfare State Take-Up Rates”

  1. RIT_Rich says:

    Food stamps are part of the…payment…groups like AmeriCorps provide, even to employees who are in the top 5% of the economic ladder (like someone I know). Of course these programs are no longer just for the needy.

  2. Rod says:

    It also makes it a lot easier to use food stamps by getting what looks like a credit card from the government. You no longer have to count out food stamps at the grocery counter but instead just swipe your card like it’s American Express. Don’t leave your public housing without it!

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