DEFINITION of 'Welfare'

A government program which provides financial aid to individuals or groups who cannot support themselves. Welfare programs are funded by taxpayers and allow people to cope with financial stress during rough periods of their lives. In most cases, people who use welfare will receive a biweekly or monthly payment. The goals of welfare vary, as it looks to promote the pursuance of work, education or, in some instances, a better standard of living.


The desired outcomes of people on welfare will depend primarily on the circumstances that caused them to apply for aid. A mentally or physically disabled person may not be expected to assume independence after a period of time, so welfare would provide ongoing aid to better their standard of living. A person lacking education, or who cannot currently provide for themselves, also might be provided welfare. In this case, the person would be expected to receive training or take steps towards financial independence. Ongoing welfare is not a desirable outcome for this individual according to those giving it.

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