Welfare can take a variety of forms, such as monetary payments, subsidies and vouchers, health services, or housing. Welfare can be provided by governments, non-governmental organizations, or a combination of the two. Welfare programs may be funded directly by governments, or in social insurance models, by the members of the welfare scheme.
Welfare systems differ from country to country, but welfare is commonly provided to individuals who are unemployed, those with illness or disability, the elderly, those with dependent children, and veterans. A person’s eligibility for welfare may also be constrained by means testing or other conditions.
In a more general sense, welfare also means the well-being of individuals or a group – in other words, their health, happiness, safety, prosperity, and fortunes.
Subsidy Subsidizing a good is one way of redistributing wealth to the poor. It is money that is paid usually by a government to keep the price of a product or service low or to help a business or organization to continue to function. In a budget constraint between ‘all other goods’ and a ‘subsidized good’, the maximum amount of ‘all other goods will remain the same but the budget constraint will shift outward for the ‘subsidized good’ because the cost of the ‘subsidized good’ is reduced for the consumer and so they have the ability to consume more of said good. Some people do not want to use subsidies because they want the poor to consume the subsidized good or service in a specific way or because subsidizing goods (such as health care) can lead to an over consumption of the good.
Voucher A voucher is like a subsidy that can only be consumed in a specific way like a school voucher or section 8 housing. For instance, families who receive school vouchers may only use them to send their children to schools to help pay tuition costs. Schools then exchange the voucher for cash. Similarly, in section 8 housing, families with this voucher can only use the voucher to pay a portion of their living costs in specified units or in a private sector. In a budget constraint between ‘all other goods’ and a ‘voucher good’ our budget constraint will shift out parallel to an amount equal to the amount of the voucher but the money we have to spend on ‘all other goods’ remains capped at the same amount we had to spend before the voucher. Voucher programs can make us worse off because of the cap on our ability to spend on ‘all other goods’ our indifference curves could limit us.
Direct Cash This is straight cash with no restrictions on how it can be consumed. Direct cash may cause greater budget constraint because the recipient can spend the cash subsidy on all ‘other goods’ or on a ‘subsidized good’. Direct cash increases the entire budget constraint and shifts the indifference curves outward allowing us to maximize individual utility.