State Political Culture and Welfare Reform

Mead, L.
Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 32, no. 2 (May 2004)

I investigate the link between the general features of state governments and their ability to reform welfare. The best indicator of governments’ characteristics is Elazar’s political cultures. I define what successful welfare reform means, drawing on implementation research and experience. My criteria stress process, the avoidance of political and administrative problems. I then test the link between the Elazar cultures and successful reform using recent case studies of state implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Elazar’s “moralistic” states perform best, and the association holds, even controlling for other influences. Results depend, however, on how welfare reform is defined.

Wagner Faculty