by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Workforce participation has stalled or declined among men and women of prime working age. Edward Lazear of Stanford University says 1.5 million jobs are simply “missing”.
Existing work requirements for welfare programs have had limited success. Brookings Institution scholar Ron Haskins says in a recent paper the federal government should encourage new work requirements in TANF, SNAP, housing, and Medicaid so states can experiment with ways to increase skills and work participation.
The most obvious consequences of non-work are low income and high poverty….
It would be a serious error to think that low income and poverty are the only important outcomes of non-work. Work also creates a time structure and routines for daily life; has a major influence on an individual’s status and identity; and creates numerous opportunities for constructing a social life. In addition, many studies have shown a connection between non- work and a range of personal and medical challenges, including nonmarriage and divorce (Autor, Dorn, and Hanson 2017; Lindner and Peters 2014; Ribar 2015); suicide (Kposowa 2001); alcohol abuse (Popovici and French 2013); increased incidence of life-threatening diseases (Lynge 1997); and even a shortened lifespan (Montez and Zajacova 2013; Case and Deaton 2015). It would be difficult to imagine a social problem that has been shown to play a greater role in so many of the nation’s major financial, social, medical, and personal problems than non-work—all the more reason to believe that policies designed to promote work are of great importance.