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The “Welfare Cliff” Isn’t Real—But the Pit of Dependency Is

New research from the Foundation for Government Accountability shines light on the real-world problems—and solutions—in welfare and debunks the Left’s empty talking point of a “welfare cliff.”

Naples, FL—Today, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) released a new research paper detailing the real impact of welfare expansion on its recipients, budgets, and America’s labor market. At a moment when welfare spending has grown drastically, labor force participation has plummeted, creating a two-directional crisis: an economy with a shortage of workers, and a culture of welfare dependency that traps Americans for generations.

The report exposes a favorite talking point of the Left: the so-called “welfare cliff” that threatens recipients with a loss of benefits as a “penalty” for employment. The report shows people are better off when they leave welfare for work, and the so-called “cliff” doesn’t exist in the first place—most welfare programs include transitional benefits for workers.

“Escaping the pit of dependency is possible, but it requires a serious focus on policies that work, not scare tactics that freeze people into inaction out of fear of falling off an imaginary cliff,” said Sam Adolphsen, the report’s author and policy director at FGA. “If policymakers are serious about improving lives, they should concentrate on true welfare reform that promotes work and earned income, which can lift millions out of dependency.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Enrollment and spending in welfare programs have grown dramatically in recent years, largely driven by increases in able-bodied adults receiving benefits.
  • Most able-bodied adults on welfare do not work at all.
  • Despite the age-old talking point about welfare programs having a “cliff,” most programs have already incorporated transitional benefits.


The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream. To learn more, visit

At FGA, we don’t just talk about changing policy—we make it happen.

By partnering with FGA through a gift, you can create more policy change that returns America to a country where entrepreneurship thrives, personal responsibility is rewarded, and paychecks replace welfare checks.