A 20th anniversary reminder that an authentic randomized control trial proved beyond all conventional statistical significance levels and all reasonable doubt that welfare reform killed people.
I will just note a very crude calculation. The experimental point estimate is that Florida’s welfare reform caused death rates to increase by 16%. This is a huge gigantic immense estimated effect. A silly assumption is that the increase was proportionally the same at all ages. If that were true, welfare reform would reduce life expectacy by a factor of 1.16 or about 11 years.
The available evidence suggests that welfare reform is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or like morbid obesity.
A crude estimate of the number of US deaths caused by welfare reform dwarfs US deaths caused by al Qaeda, plus the decision to invade Iraq, plus murder.
Defenders of welfare reform must critique the study to which I link or argue that human lives don’t matter. There is no third choice.
update: well that was quick. Warren notes in comments that my very crude calculation differs from a calculation in the paper by a factor of 14.67 or 0.917 Posners. I will try to figure out why.
I note that my calculation is very simple and based on a clearly stated assumption which I didn’t claim was reasonable.
Obviously a very different result holds if it is assumed that welfare reform has no effect on people of ages other than those in the study. The point is that a 16% increase in mortality is huge.