Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2001 Zenzile Stokely-White. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies Program, Economics Department

First Advisor

Sarah Willie-LeBreton

Second Advisor

Amanda Bayer


This thesis provides a fresh look at the relationship between welfare, race and gender, and the value of women's household work. This topic is approached from economic, historical, and Black Studies perspectives. Included is an evaluation of the value of women's household production, by comparing one woman's nominal value of household production to the amount that she receives in welfare, in order to show how society undervalues women's production in the home. There has yet to be a study done that addresses the way in which American society view women's productivity in the home by examining the federal programs established to compensate her for not working. The term compensate is used because we need to start thinking of welfare payments as women's compensation for the work that they do in the home. The history of social welfare policy from the 17th century to the present is examined with a focus on social welfare policies created during the Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton administrations, as well as a discussion on the exclusive nature of major social welfare policies that denied access to women and minorities. The effects of race and gender on social welfare policy are also discussed.


social welfare policy in the United States, single mothers, African American women, time use data