Race and welfare: Racial disparities in treatments and outcomes among VIEW participants

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


D. Marie Provine


Public administration, Welfare, Social work, Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare, workfare

Subject Categories

American Politics


This dissertation examines the racial implications of governmental initiatives designed to reduced welfare dependency. Recognizing the strong historical linkage between race and welfare, this research suggests that welfare policy is most harmful when it is developed and implemented in a decentralized context. The central research question addressed in this analysis is: Given a policy environment characterized by a high level of state and local discretion, are there disparities in the treatment and employment outcomes of white and black Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients? By using quantitative and qualitative data from Virginia's newly implemented welfare program, VIEW (Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare), this analysis goes beyond traditional outcome measure to include process measures, such as interactions with caseworkers and employers. The primary findings indicate that among participants in a state-controlled welfare program, blacks have more negative employment status outcomes and receive more negative treatments than whites despite having higher levels of education. This research concludes that the current trend toward increased state and local discretion in the design and implementation of welfare programs has negative policy implications for black welfare clients. It concludes by offering specific policy recommendations to promote racial equality in the administration of welfare programs.


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