Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.”

Ronald Reagan, Politician

Pros and Cons of Welfare

advantages and disadvantages of welfare

Welfare is a concept that aims to support the poorest in our society so that they are able to meet basic human needs like housing, getting enough food, etc.

Although this kind of government support has many important advantages, there are still some problems related to welfare programs.

In this article, the pros and cons of welfare are discussed in detail.

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Advantages of Welfare

  1. Welfare can help to reduce poverty
  2. Can give people better access to education
  3. Welfare programs can help people to get enough food
  4. Can help to avoid homelessness
  5. Welfare may help to avoid social isolation
  6. Better access to medical treatment
  7. Welfare can help people to get back on track
  8. Can help to mitigate the income and wealth inequality problem
  9. Welfare can help to lower social tensions
  10. Can help to support children in difficult times
  11. High demand for welfare
  12. Some people get into trouble without doing something wrong
  13. Helpful for disabled persons
  14. Increase in overall safety levels
  15. Can be extremely helpful for pensioners
  16. We as humans should feel obliged to help others
  17. Welfare can increase life expectancy

Welfare can help to reduce poverty

One major advantage of welfare is that it can greatly help us to reduce poverty in many countries all over the world. Billions of people still struggle to afford housing, food and other basic things for their daily life. Especially for poor people, welfare can make the difference between staying alive or dying.

Hence, in order to help the poorest among us, welfare is crucial to supply people with basic things they urgently need and also to improve the overall quality of life of those people so that they can live a decent life instead of a life where they always have to worry regarding how to survive.

Can give people better access to education

Welfare can also help to improve the overall education levels of people. In many regions, a big fraction of the general public suffers from a lack of education since many families are simply not able to afford to send their kids to school. However, proper education is crucial in order to find a decent job and to get out of poverty in the long run.

Therefore, in order to give people better education opportunities which will help them during their entire life, welfare programs are crucial so that more parents are able to provide their kids with decent education.

Welfare programs can help people to get enough food

Another benefit of welfare is that it gives people the opportunity to get enough food and water in order to survive. Many people all over the world currently struggle to supply themselves with sufficient food since food prices are simply too high compared to their income. Many people are also unemployed, especially in structurally weak regions where there is not too much industry around.

Consequently, many of those people would not be able to get sufficient food without welfare programs and would suffer from serious nutrient deficiencies. In the worst case, some of those people would even die without welfare support from the government.

Therefore, it is crucial that governments all over the world set up basic welfare schemes so that people are covered in case they struggle with affording the most basic things for their lives.

Can help to avoid homelessness

In many big cities around the world, property prices and rents have increased significantly. Many people with low-wage jobs are no longer able to afford paying their rent and would therefore end up homeless sooner or later. For those people, it is crucial to get financial support through welfare.

This should also be in line with our perception of fairness. If someone works in a full-time job, he or she should be able to cover basic needs and should not have to worry whether the rent can be paid or not.

Welfare may help to avoid social isolation

Once people cannot pay their rent anymore, they may end up homeless in the streets. However, from this point on, it is extremely hard to get back into normal life since there are all sorts of problems associated with homelessness.

Moreover, homeless people will also often suffer from significant social isolation over time since there are almost no friends on the streets and homeless persons will also have not too much contact with the general public who lives a standard life.

Thus, in order to prevent homelessness and the social isolation that is related to it, we need proper welfare programs so that people will still be able to afford paying their rent and to stay valid members of our society.

Better access to medical treatment

Welfare programs can also greatly facilitate access to proper medical treatment. Many people around the world still suffer from a lack of health insurance since they are simply not able to afford proper health insurance due to their low salaries.

In turn, once they experience serious health issues, those people will often not be able to afford medical treatment or have to get into serious levels of debt, which will hurt them later on in their lives.

Hence, in order to assure proper medical treatment for everyone in our global society, governments around the world should introduce welfare programs that cover the costs for health insurance in case individuals are no longer able to afford paying the insurance premium by themselves.

Welfare can help people to get back on track

Many people also greatly underestimate the risk that is present in the life of everyone of us. Quite often, people are just a few paychecks away from homelessness, still they don’t realize it until it is too late. Especially if there is no welfare program in place and you lose your job, you may no longer be able to pay your rent and may end up homeless.

If this is the case, you will have a quite hard time getting back on track and many homeless people will stay homeless for many years or even until the end of their lives. Consequently, in order to avoid this sort of downward spiral, welfare programs should give people the opportunity to stay in their homes, search for a new job and to get back on track without having to fear losing their shelter.

Can help to mitigate the income and wealth inequality problem

One reason why there is still huge income and wealth inequality in our society is that there are only insufficient or even no welfare programs in place in some countries. If you are borne in a poor family, you will often not get the opportunity for proper education. In turn, you will often work in a low-wage job and will not be able to save and invest enough money to get out of your misery.

In contrast, if you come from a wealthy family, you will often have the opportunity to get the best education and all kinds of support you need to succeed. Even if you failed, you would still inherit sufficient wealth in many cases and you could still live a decent life.

Therefore, in order to reduce the level of injustice in our society, welfare programs could definitely help since more children from poor families would be able to get proper education and to overcome poverty in the long run, which would also imply that the gap between the poor and the rich could be lowered to a certain extent.

Welfare can help to lower social tensions

If people work in low-wage jobs or if they are unemployed and struggle to cover their daily living expenses, chances are that those people will become quite frustrated and desperate over time. Imagine you always have to worry regarding how to pay your bills. Chances are that this will not be good for your mental state and over time, you may even develop serious levels of resentment.

Thus, the social tensions in our society can also become quite alarming and in order to lower those social tensions, we have to provide people with a safety net so that they do no longer have to worry about how to cover their basic expenses.

Can help to support children in difficult times

Many welfare programs also aim to especially address children and their needs in case families get into financial trouble. For instance, children from poor families often get financial support for educational materials so that they are still able to get a decent education which would not be possible without those welfare schemes.

Moreover, since children are not able to earn money, those welfare programs also aim to support families with children so that parents are able to buy enough food for their kids. Hence, welfare programs are also crucial to support our children in difficult times in their lives.

High demand for welfare

From the many applications for welfare every day, it becomes quite apparent that those welfare policies are urgently needed. Many millions of people around the world apply for welfare each day and without those support programs, many people would end up homeless or would even die from starvation.

Thus, in order to protect those people from unhuman lifestyles, welfare programs are quite important to provide a minimum living standard to everyone in our society.

Some people get into trouble without doing something wrong

Many people also think that welfare programs are not necessary since people should take care of their own and if someone works hard, he or she would never need welfare support. However, this is a quite naive view of the world. The reality is that many people are just a few paychecks away from losing their home.

For instance, if a financial crisis hits, many stockbrokers or other people that earned really good money are at great risk to lose their homes since they will no longer be able to afford their lifestyle. Hence, even the most qualified people can get into financial trouble without doing something wrong.

Therefore, in order to protect everyone of us from unforeseen events, welfare is crucial in order to get back on track as soon as possible.

Helpful for disabled persons

Some people in our society are simply not able to work due to certain handicaps. Even if they can work to a certain extent, those people still often just earn quite low wages and have to rely on government support since they would not be able to cover their basic expenses otherwise.

Thus, in order to protect people who often cannot help themselves in a sufficient manner, basic welfare programs are crucial so that everyone of us will be able to live a certain lifestyle without having to worry about basic things for our lives.

Increase in overall safety levels

Another advantage of welfare programs is that those programs can also greatly improve the overall safety levels in a country. If people get into financial problems, they often become quite desperate and do no longer know how to make enough money to cover their basic expenses.

In turn, if there are no welfare programs in place, those people may be more willing to engage in unlawful actions since they have to make money in order to survive.

However, with proper welfare programs, those people could rely on the state instead of having to make money in an illegal manner and chances are that the overall safety levels in countries that have solid welfare programs in place will be much higher compared to countries that don’t have those programs.

Can be extremely helpful for pensioners

Old-age poverty has become a serious problem in many countries all over the world. Quite often, rents and other daily living expenses increase faster than pension payments do and due to that, an increasing number of pensioners are no longer able to cover their basic expenses. In turn, many pensioners will end up homeless.

However, nobody should end up homeless if he or she worked hard for the entire life. Consequently, in order to mitigate the problem of old-age poverty, proper welfare programs can help those people to cover their expenses so that pensioners do no longer have to worry to lose their homes.

We as humans should feel obliged to help others

In general, we as humans should feel obliged to help each other in case someone gets into financial trouble. Many people get into unforeseen financial difficulties and in such a case, it should be our human responsibility to help those people out and to set the framework so that they can get back on track out of their own power.

Always be aware that also you may need help from welfare at one point in your life, even if you currently don’t think that this could happen and chances are that you will be quite thankful for this kind of support in case of emergency.

Welfare can increase life expectancy

Since welfare programs often help people to cover their costs for health insurance, people are better able to afford medical treatment, which can save many lives in case of emergency. Moreover, welfare also aims to provide people with the opportunity to buy sufficient food and water to survive.

Thus, all those measures make it much more likely for people to overcome those difficult periods of their lives, which also implies a higher average life expectancy in our society.

Disadvantages of Welfare

  1. Welfare is quite costly
  2. Many people consider it to be dodgy
  3. Money may not end up where it is urgently needed
  4. Amount of welfare significantly differs across states
  5. Applying for welfare can be quite bureaucratic
  6. People may become dependent on welfare
  7. Less motivation to work
  8. Welfare may take away personal responsibility of people
  9. Some people may misuse welfare programs
  10. Discrimination of minorities in some regions
  11. Duration of welfare claims is subject to discretion
  12. Many people just do not qualify for welfare
  13. Welfare addresses the symptoms, not the causes
  14. Flawed incentive for companies to pay lower wages
  15. Plenty of administrative work necessary

Welfare is quite costly

Although there are many important advantages of welfare, there are also some problems related to this kind of government support. One problem of welfare is that it also implies significant costs that have to be borne by taxpayers’ money. In fact, welfare can be a major expense in the government household.

Especially in poor countries of our planet, governments may not be able to afford to set up those programs since those countries often have too high levels of sovereign debt.

Therefore, even though the concept of welfare makes quite a lot of sense for various reasons, it may simply not be affordable in many poor regions of our planet.

Many people consider it to be dodgy

Relying on welfare programs is also still stigmatized in many countries all over the world. People who currently have good jobs often can’t understand why people should rely on welfare programs. In general, the level of empathy towards poor people who struggle to cover their daily expenses is often quite limited in our society.

Thus, if you want to rely on welfare programs since you lost your job or due to various other reasons, chances are that you may have to justify yourself among your family members or friends.

Money may not end up where it is urgently needed

Due to frictions and other weaknesses of welfare systems, many people who would urgently need the support of welfare programs may actually not be eligible to get this kind of support.

For instance, if you are currently homeless and you would urgently need financial support from welfare programs to get back on track, you will often not get this kind of support since you may have lost your passport and will also have no permanent residential address to do all the paperwork.

Therefore, many people who most urgently needed support would simply not get financial help due to those frictions in the system.

Amount of welfare significantly differs across states

The level of welfare people can get also significantly varies across state and countries. While in some regions of our planet, welfare schemes may be quite good, those schemes may be just insufficient or missing at all in other parts of our world.

Hence, people may also get the incentive to migrate to countries with better welfare schemes so that they will be covered in case of emergency.

Therefore, welfare can also lead to flawed incentives for people to relocate due to economic reasons related to welfare programs.

Applying for welfare can be quite bureaucratic

Another downside of welfare programs is that they often also imply high levels of bureaucratic work. People often have to provide plenty of information regarding why they need support from welfare programs and those forms are often also not easy to understand at all.

Hence, many people may simply not be able to complete those forms and may therefore not get any welfare subsidies at all.

People may become dependent on welfare

If people know that there will be a safety net in case they get into financial trouble, they will also be more likely to take excessive financial risks. For instance, people may get into excessive levels of debt in order to start a business. If the business succeeds, they get all the upside. If the business fails, they are covered by the state.

Consequently, these kinds of flawed incentives may lead to unreasonable financial decisions of people, not only in business but also when it comes to debt that is due to the excessive consumption of unnecessary material things.

Less motivation to work

If people know that they will be covered by welfare in case they need it, people may also have a lower incentive to work hard. This is especially true for people who currently work in jobs which pay quite bad. In many cases, people who currently work in those jobs would be able to afford a similar lifestyle if they relied on welfare instead of working.

Therefore, if welfare programs are too generous, they could take away the incentive of people to get up in the morning, which can be extremely damaging to the local economy.

Welfare may take away personal responsibility of people

Another disadvantage of welfare programs is that they often also take away the responsibility of people to provide for themselves. Many people may just consider relying on those programs as the normal way to go and those people may never get into the job market due to that.

Hence, many people may just lose the feeling that they are responsible for their own lives, which is never a good thing and can lead to all sorts of trouble later on in the lives of those people.

Some people may misuse welfare programs

There are also some people out there who try to exploit the welfare system as best as they can. In every welfare system, there are certain loopholes that can be exploited. This can lead to a state where people who would actually not be eligible for welfare would still be able to get money from those welfare schemes.

Therefore, if those welfare programs are misused, plenty of taxpayers’ money could be spent on people who would not really need money from those programs.

Discrimination of minorities in some regions

In some regions of our planet, welfare programs also exclude certain minorities. This means that in case people who belong to those minorities need financial support, they will simply often not get it.

However, every human being should be worth the same and in case welfare programs exclude certain minorities, governments should urgently try to change those schemes in a way that every person gets support in case of financial trouble, independent of whether he or she belongs to a certain minority or not.

Duration of welfare claims is subject to discretion

Depending on the country you live in, the duration of welfare claims may also be subject to high levels of discretion. Quite often, governments may be able to reduce or even to stop your welfare payments due to various reasons, which may lead to serious trouble for many people.

Hence, make sure which requirements you have to fulfill in order to be eligible for welfare and also how long welfare payments will be granted in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Many people just do not qualify for welfare

Many people may even not qualify for welfare support, even though they would urgently need money. This can be due to certain frictions in welfare systems or also due to the fact that some people will have much higher chances to get support from welfare compared to others.

For instance, if you have children, you will be much more likely to get financial support from the government compared to a single person in most countries of our planet.

Welfare addresses the symptoms, not the causes

While welfare programs can help people to overcome difficult periods of their lives, they often rather mitigate the symptoms, but they do not address the real causes of poverty. In many cases, setting up proper welfare programs is not enough.

Governments should also try to implement political measures that aim to address the causes of poverty so that fewer people will get into poverty and less welfare support will be needed in the long run.

Flawed incentive for companies to pay lower wages

In many countries, people will be eligible for welfare even though they work in a full-time job. If the salary from those jobs is sufficiently lower, governments will often grant additional subsidies. However, if this is the case, companies may get the incentive to pay quite low wages since they know that governments will subsidize those wages anyways.

Hence, companies will also get a flawed incentive to lower their wages to an artificially low level and governments will actually support the labor costs of those companies through welfare payments.

Plenty of administrative work necessary

In order to set up and to maintain proper welfare schemes, plenty of administrative work will be necessary. However, this also implies significant labor costs. Thus, apart from the actual costs related to welfare payments, additional taxpayers’ money has to be used for the administration of those programs.

Top 10 Welfare Pros & Cons – Summary List

Welfare ProsWelfare Cons
Welfare can help to reduce povertyWelfare can be quite expensive
Can give people better access to educationHas to be financed by taxpayers’ money
Welfare can help to mitigate homelessnessSome people may exploit the system
Can help to close the wealth gapIncentive for companies to lower wages
Welfare can help people to get back on trackSocial stigma related to welfare
Especially beneficial for childrenMay take away responsibility from people
Can help handicapped personsNot everyone who’s poor will be eligible
May help to prevent old-age povertySymptoms are cured, not the causes of poverty
Welfare can increase overall life expectancyRequires some level of administrative work
Humans should feel obliged to help peopleLower motivation to work

Do We Need Welfare?

We can conclude from the previous discussion that there are numerous advantages and disadvantages to welfare programs. In my opinion, we urgently need a certain level of welfare so that nobody will be left behind in case of emergency.

However, those welfare payments should be subject to the efforts of people to get back on track so that people don’t get flawed incentives to rely on welfare for longer periods of time.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare

https://www.usa.gov/benefits

https://www.ssa.gov/history/pdf/histdev.pdf

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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