Benefits Cliffs - Disincentives For Work And Marriage In The Welfare System

Known as the “welfare cliff,” the idea that welfare programs often punish efforts to work – due to dramatic drops or “cliffs” in benefits as a recipient’s income increases, even by just cents per hour – is not a new concept. In fact, it has been discussed anecdotally for years with some reports looking at how one or two programs disincentivise work as a general matter. This tool is important and unique because, for the first time, it references and provides a model that demonstrates how welfare programs, alone or in combination with other programs, create multiple benefits cliffs for recipients that punish work. In addition to covering a dozen programs – more than any previous model – the tool used to produce the following report allows users to see how the welfare cliff affects individuals and families with very specific characteristics, including the age and sex of the parent, number of children, age of children, income, and other variables. Finally, while the report includes examples from just three counties in Georgia, the welfare cliff tool allows for the same analysis to be generated for any county in the state. Click on your state in the tool to see how these 'cliffs' impact people in those communities.