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Study: states with more black residents have more restrictive welfare benefits

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Call it a coincidence if you want, or see it as confirmation of bias against black people at structural levels within society.

new study highlights this gap, particularly with respect to social services. The result of the study’s findings: states with higher populations of black people are more likely to have less generous and more restrictive welfare benefits. 

State welfare policies subject all families, regardless of their race, to the same rules.

But the majority of black people live in states with the lowest proportion of families receiving cash assistance. African Americans are at a practical disadvantage as a result of that population distribution, [Heather Hahn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-author of the study said].

“The effects of these policies are not race neutral because we aren’t geographically dispersed evenly by race,” she said.

Here’s how Welfare works: states get to determine the amount of cash assistance that they provide to families in poverty. Each state has differing approaches to supporting needy families. Color blind? Maybe. But consider that attitudes about poverty and the poor are shaped by stereotypes about race.

Learn more about the study described in the Washington Post here.