Michael Barone: Lower Crime Now May Be a Fruit of Welfare Reform 20 Years Ago


Welfare reform work requirements may be contributing to the remarkable decline in violent crime  (AP File)

Michael Barone writes: As I was looking over the depressing jobs data for the last five years and the large number of working-age people leaving the work force, I came up with a hypothesis on a related subject, one worth testing and, if valid, acting on.

The jobs data are certainly depressing, as economists of just about every ideological stripe agree. Total national employment is down from the 2007 peak of 147 million to 144 million.

“The most important factor in reducing crime has been improved policing, pioneered by New York Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and imitated and adapted by others elsewhere.”

Labor-force participation–the percentage of the adult population with jobs–has been hovering around 63 percent, the lowest since 1978. The Millennial generation is getting socked the hardest. Labor-force participation for those age 20 to 24 is down to the lowest level since 1971.

Some argue that this is a good thing. An Obama administration spokesman responding to the Congressional Budget Office‘s projection that Obamacare would induce 2 million people to leave the work force said such people would thereby be freed to be poets.


Only vibrant economic growth can produce a commercial market and philanthropic support for poets. Unemployment and disability checks are a poor substitute.

For work is not just something that produces income. It also is a source of personal satisfaction, a way for people to contribute positively to their families and communities.

True happiness, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks argues, comes from earned success and work, even in an entry-level job, is a prime source of that.

One area where work has lead to personal satisfaction — and I’m heading to my promised hypothesis now — is in welfare reform.

Research has shown that work requirements for welfare recipients have produced not just greater income but more satisfaction.

Entry-level jobs for welfare recipients have proven not to be dead ends but the avenue to greater job skills and promotions.

The welfare reform work requirements may also be contributing — this is my hypothesis — to the remarkable decline in violent crime in America over the last 20 yearsRead the rest >>>


2 Comments on “Michael Barone: Lower Crime Now May Be a Fruit of Welfare Reform 20 Years Ago”

  1. upaces88 says:

    The key word here is “May.” This article is NOT correct.
    20 yrs ago, we didn’t have the viral killing of white people nor did we have a viral killing of black people.

    • The Butcher says:

      It’s a start. Barone is a thorough analyst. I’d prefer a measured approach that’s cautious about drawing firm conclusions, than one that draws premature conclusions, and is viewed as less credible by critics, and other researchers.

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