Fact Sheet: Do Work Requirements in Public Programs Work?

May 1, 2017

Legislators frequently propose that people who receive safety net benefits such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) or Medicaid be required to do paid or unpaid work in exchange. The most recent proposals include stricter work requirements for SNAP participants and introducing requirements for people who receive Medicaid or housing assistance. 

Bread for the World has always argued that work is the surest way out of poverty. It is a cornerstone of our society that all adults who can work, should work. But do work requirements lead to the kind of jobs that pay enough to lift people out of poverty?

So far, the most successful work programs have been voluntary programs that combine employment and education. There is little data, because most such programs have been small, underfunded, and not followed up with careful evaluation. 

Work requirements may be acceptable, but only if serious penalties apply only to people who are offered jobs and refuse them without a valid reason.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Conflict and Fragility Are Hunger Issues

     Conflict is a main driver of the recent increase in hunger around the world and of forced migration. Hunger also contributes to conflict. 

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

For Advocacy

Faith

African at Heart

November 22, 2019

Insight

The Africa they want

February 21, 2020

From the Blog