Friday, November 04, 2011

How to Keep Welfare from Undermining Poor Marriages

David Schramm, a University of Missouri researcher, compared two kinds of poor families (making less that $20,000 per year): those who took welfare, and those who did not.

Those who did not take welfare had happier marriages.

Schramm is not sure why.  He thinks it is because work is valuable in itself, and unemployment is undermining, especially for men.  He acknowledges, though, that the welfare recipients might be different - drug addicts or mentally ill, perhaps.

I can see how taking welfare would be undermining, especially for men.  It may be necessary in emergencies to keep your family afloat, but that doesn't mean it is without cost.

There is a wonderful scene in the movie "Cinderella Man," in which a boxer during the Depression is obliged to take relief to feed his family.  He is deeply ashamed of taking charity, but does what his family needs.  Later, when he is successful and famous as a boxer, he turns up in the relief line again. The people in the line know who he is, and are surprised to see him there.  Their faces show that they think he may be cheating the system, taking when he is not really in need.  However, when he gets to the head of the line, he delights the crowd: he pays back all the welfare he took.

That might be a good model for how to keep your self respect on welfare:  make a real plan to pay it back when you are on your feet again.

No comments: