Federalism and the Racialization of Welfare Policy

Christopher Ojeda, Anne M. Whitesell, Michael B. Berkman, Eric Plutzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Considerable research shows that welfare policies are stricter in states with large African American caseloads. We challenge the universality of this claim by extending Soss, Fording, and Schram’s Racial Classification Model to account for the multidimensionality of policy, the constraints imposed by federal funding, and state legislators’ ideological goals and racial stereotypes. Examining the work requirements, sanctions, time limits, and exemptions in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), we test our hypotheses using the most detailed measures of state welfare policy yet examined. Consistent with our theory, we show that policy is more generous on some dimensions and less generous on others as the size of the African American caseload increases. This pattern reveals a complexity in welfare policy previously overlooked by research showing only negative effects. The results have important implications for theories addressing race in the context of TANF and other complex policy regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-501
Number of pages28
JournalState Politics and Policy Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Federalism and the Racialization of Welfare Policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this