Laboratories of Suffering: Toward Democratic Welfare Governance

Forthcoming, Poverty States: Federalism, Rights, and State Anti-Poverty Efforts (Ezra Rosser ed., Cambridge University Press, 2019)

34 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2018 Last revised: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Monica C. Bell

Monica C. Bell

Yale University - Law School

Andrea Taverna

Yale University, Law School, Students

Dhruv Aggarwal

Yale University, Law School, Students ; Yale University, School of Management, Students

Isra Syed

Yale University, Law School, Students

Date Written: July 26, 2018

Abstract

In this chapter, we provide background on federal cash assistance to poor families, explain current TANF policy, and propose that anti-poverty scholars turn their attention to a fundamental precondition of democratic experimentalism: the presence of meaningful and well-functioning democracy that includes the poor. A democratic structure that operates non-democratically by weakening the political voices of poor people is an insufficient environment for a just approach to welfare. Instead of laboratories of democracy, states in this domain often function as laboratories of suffering—political entities that experiment upon poor people without robust informed consent. While some democratic deficits are likely inevitable in any system, in welfare, we see a governance structure in which the sole direct beneficiaries of the regime are largely shut out of the democratic processes that structure that regime. This arrangement virtually guarantees inefficacious policy.

Keywords: TANF, welfare, federalism, poverty, democracy

JEL Classification: I3

Suggested Citation

Bell, Monica C. and Taverna, Andrea and Aggarwal, Dhruv and Syed, Isra, Laboratories of Suffering: Toward Democratic Welfare Governance (July 26, 2018). Forthcoming, Poverty States: Federalism, Rights, and State Anti-Poverty Efforts (Ezra Rosser ed., Cambridge University Press, 2019) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3220372

Monica C. Bell (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Andrea Taverna

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Dhruv Aggarwal

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Yale University, School of Management, Students ( email )

New Haven, CT
United States

Isra Syed

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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