From Vermont to Mississippi: Race and Cash Welfare

50 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2005 Last revised: 2 Jul 2010

See all articles by Lee Harris

Lee Harris

University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Date Written: July 2, 2010

Abstract

This Article's primary objective is to assess empirically the influence of race on the provision of cash assistance to the poor. Specifically, I attempt to demonstrate that state choices in the distribution of cash assistance are motivated by the relative number of African American welfare families present in states. For instance, I employ a typical form of statistical analysis, multivariate analysis, which allows one to test the impact of several variables on the choices states make in administering welfare programs under TANF. I find that states with a relatively large number of African American welfare families dole out less in cash assistance than others, all else being equal.

Thereafter, I attempt to explain why the proportion of African American welfare families influences state-cash assistance programs. I suggest, first, that the differential treatment may be the upshot of the political economy of state governments, as explicated by Sheryl Cashin and others. In this view, African Americans, particularly poor African Americans, vote less and, as a result, exert little influence on state legislatures. I argue, next, that there is a long history of discrimination of African Americans in social welfare programs, which informs current patterns and processes.

Keywords: Race, race and law, social welfare policy, American welfare law, poverty, devolution

JEL Classification: J7, J78, K00, I3, R5, H71

Suggested Citation

Harris, Lee, From Vermont to Mississippi: Race and Cash Welfare (July 2, 2010). Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 38, pp. 1-50, 2006; University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 50. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=773029

Lee Harris (Contact Author)

University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law ( email )

One North Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103-2189
United States
901-678-1393 (Phone)

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