We all know that welfare is pretty much a failure in the USA, and I can attest to similar results in the UK. However, what I'm interested in finding out is if there is any data of welfare schemes that have been successful.
Of course, the difficult part here, is defining "success". I mean, if we judge success by just keeping people alive and fed, then, yeah, most welfare schemes are "successful". I suppose the best measures would be:
1) If a country has had a substantial reduction in "poverty" since the implementation of a welfare scheme.
2) If a country has seen the number of people dependant on welfare decline since its initial implementation (without reductions in the scope of the program itself)
3) If there are demographically comparable countries in which one implemented a welfare scheme, and another didn't, and the one with the welfare scheme saw significant improvements in the standard of living amongst the poorest sectors, outpacing that of the the other country (the best chance of an "all-else-equal" experiment).
I think this is actually an important argument to work out and nail down. Many of the times, when we discuss welfare with statists, they just say "well, yeah, that's what happens in our system because of X, if we just have reform". That argument becomes much more difficult to make, if we have substantial evidence of welfare failure across the globe, with all the numerous schemes that entail.
I have this to contribute for the US:
As to other nations, I know that the book After the Welfare State has some relevant articles. I haven't read most of them, but the one that I have read is on Italy and it discusses their history of government intervention (I forget whether it hits on the welfare state specifically, ironically, but I would assume so given the title of the book).
AFAIK, most governments define "poverty" as "the number of people who receive less than a certain level of yearly income". So according to that definition, if incomes below that level are raised above it, then "poverty" has necessarily been reduced. I think many (if not most) people who advocate welfare states really don't care about welfare dependency.
The keyboard is mightier than the gun.
Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.
From the paper:
Yet another factor promoting efficiency of private charities is that those operating at levels of inefficiency comparable to the average government agency are often prosecuted—by the government (which never applies the same standards or threat to its own agencies)—for fraud. Pressure on private charities to avoid such prosecution, and the bad publicity and loss of public trust resulting, is strong.
I never knew that before. Amazing!
That depends on the true goals of the welfare program. If it is to reduce poverty or give people a "Social Safety Net" then these policies fail in comparison to not having them. If the true goals are different like Creating dependent voters, or having a reason to create a large bureaucracy, then these policies in the eyes of the government could be extremely successful.
In my opinion it is exactly those welfare programs that people deem most successful that are the most dangerous. The do all of the bad things the other welfare programs do but have the benefit to redistribute wealth to wealtheir people from poorer ones.
Those are statistics that are not going to be available in an accurate form ever. And opinions will vary depending on who gives them.
1. In my opinion there has never been a society that reduced the total number of citizens on the welfare rolls by providing welfare. I am aware of instances where the numbers were reduced by adding work requirements or drug testing, but that would be classified as a "welfare failure" by lefties. Of course there are examples of specific groups that were "saved from poverty" like unions or farmer subsidies, but not the whole country.I am aware of many instances of hard working honest individuals who fell on hard times, got a handout from someone, including the state, and climbed out of that hole. But that is anecdotal evidence only and again in my opinion not representative of the typical at all.
2. Even if somebody could bring up an example of "in the country of Moldovia during the years of 345 to 988 the number of people on welfare was reduced" it cannot prove that; at first any of that was caused by the act of providing welfare, and secondly it ignores "That Which is Not Seen" which by definition cannot be measured.
So lets say the historian claims that "10,000 people went off welfare and became productive citizens".... at what cost? How is it possible to measure how many jobs would have been created if that welfare money was left in circulation? 20,000? 50,000 if you assume typical government inefficiency? No one will ever know.