AFDC, partisan politics, policy change, public opinion, welfare reform


The landmark 1996 reform to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) provides an opportunity to study processes of welfare reform in the United States. A potential factor behind the transformation of AFDC is public opinion, possibly in the form of changes in attitudes among politically relevant groups. This study will evaluate this thesis, focusing on attitudinal changes between partisan identifiers. Most data suggest the American public may have been critical of welfare programs prior to the 1996 reform. However, the extent of these criticisms generally varies depending on who is asked, how questions are worded and the type of program. Using General Social Survey (GSS) data, I analyze trends in public opinion among political identifiers and evaluate the process through which the 1996 reform was enacted.

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