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Entitlements and Welfare

Despite the relative prosperity of the United States, poverty and economic insecurity are major problems for many Americans. The size and scope of U.S. government entitlement and anti-poverty programs have increased significantly since the enactment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policies in the 1930s.

While these policies were created with the best of intentions, several decades of fighting poverty show the war has yet to be won. In many cases this is because a program has backfired. Instead of raising people’s standard of living, entitlement and welfare programs often create dependence on the state and weaken incentives and means to prepare for an uncertain future.

Independent Institute fellows have advocated for replacing the welfare state with market-based solutions to poverty. Nongovernmental solutions can provide people with basic necessities and create a social safety net. Rather than crowding out private philanthropy with government funding of a social safety net, we can empower private organizations to foster economic security and promote upward mobility.


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