Does Welfare-to-Work Work?

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NEW YORK: Brother, can you spare a study? TIME's Adam Cohen reports that nobody has bothered to research whether welfare-to-work reforms are working, even as the national initiative's first benchmark deadline approaches. "While the states are boasting about so many people disappearing from their welfare rolls, they have no idea where these people are actually going," says Cohen. "Do they get jobs? Are they ending up in homeless shelters?"

As of Wednesday, all states are supposed to have moved 75 percent of their two-parent welfare families into jobs. While some states have successfully cut welfare rolls Wisconsin welfare cases have plummeted more than 55 percent in the past decade they don't know whether that has been driven by reforms or by the booming economy. Cohen notes some homeless advocates say they've witnessed a big upswing in shelter customers, but such anecdotal evidence does little to determine the true effects of the reforms.