Benefit Dependency
How Welfare Undermines Independence

By David G. Green
Jan. 1998
Institute of Economic Affairs
ISBN: 1903366861
50 p.
$17.50 Paper Original

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of people who look to politicians for the means of life. In 1950 about four percent of the population relied on national assistance, the chief means-tested benefit. Today, nearly 17 percent of the population rely on its successor - income support. If we include other main means-tested benefits, housing benefit and council tax benefit, the figure rises to 27 percent.

Governments like to boast of the 'take-up' rate of certain benefits. David Green argues that the high proportion of the population dependent on benefits should be a cause of shame, not congratulation. Instead, he argues that we should publish Independence Figures to monitor the success or failure of public policy in encouraging self-reliance and responsible citizenship. Benefit dependency is intended as the first in a series of such publications.

David Green criticizes many poverty professionals for persistently inflating the numbers of the 'poor' by changing the scope of the definition. Furthermore, they treat the poor as powerless victims of external forces, whose problems can only be alleviated by large cash transfers. Instead, he argues, we need to revert to an earlier tradition of considering poverty in relation to character. This approach treats the poor as competant individuals who can escape from poverty once their enthusiasm and self-confidence are enlisted.

Health & Welfare
Political Science
Series: The IEA Health & Welfare Unit Choice in Welfare

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