In this Article, Nicole Huberfeld examines recent changes in the welfare system, and considers whether these changes are consistent with the stated goals of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Turning to the history of “workfare,” Huberfeld reveals parallels between the reasoning of its proponents, and that of eugenicists. She argues that workfare mirrors eugenics theory because its proponents are imposing particular white, middleclass values upon the poor as a condition to providing them benefits: Through her comparison of workfare and eugenics, Huberfeld cautions against legislation that seeks to regulate the private conduct and personal decisions of welfare recipients, and of women in general. Instead, she concludes that effective welfare reform must address the inadequate pay rates and educational opportunities available to many welfare recipients, as well as recipients’ general lack of access to childcare and health care.
Nicole Huberfeld, Recent Development, Three Generations of Welfare Mothers Are Enough: A Disturbing Return to Eugenics in the Recent "Workfare" Law, 9 UCLA Women's L.J. 97 (1998).