Dr. Christopher A. Swann

Associate Professor

Christopher A Swann

Poor Support:
Poverty In The American Family

by David T. Ellwood

Although it was published over twenty years ago, Poor Support continues to inform the way I think about government assistance programs. Specifically, Ellwood sets out what he terms four “helping conundrums”. As an example, the ‘security-work conundrum’ reflects the reality that providing security through assistance programs lessens the need to work. The other conundrums represent similar tradeoffs that must be made between competing ends. Although these tradeoffs may not be directly addressed in policy debates, they are all reflected in our social policy. I found this framework to be helpful when beginning my academic career, and I still do.