Associated Press

Does welfare rob Americans of their incentive to work?

That seems to be the conclusion some are drawing from a study published earlier this month by the Cato Institute, A libertarian think tank based out of Washington, D.C.

According to the study, 34 states and the District of Columbia provide more in welfare than a minimum wage job in that same state would.

According to a post on Foxnews.com, such a revelation shows that many American welfare programs are “creating little incentive for Americans to take entry-level work and likely increasing their long-term dependency on government help.”

When writing about the study for the Los Angeles Times, senior fellow at the Cato Institute Michael Tanner expressed outrage at the fact that less than 42 percent of adult welfare recipients participate in work activities.

“Perhaps it's because, while poor people are not lazy, they are not stupid either.” Tanner wrote last week. “If you pay people more not to work than they can earn at a job, many won't work.”

But not everyone believes the study is truly representative of how the welfare system works.

The most prominent criticism of the study is that it assumes, for the purposes of the research, that the sample families in each state receive the benefits of eight different welfare programs, namely: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Housing Assistance, Utilities Assistance, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

“Very few people actually qualify for all eight of the programs Cato looks at,” writes Josh Barro at Business Insider. “So, the typical welfare benefit is much lower than Cato makes out, making staying on welfare less appealing.”

Barro also takes issue with the fact that the study doesn’t factor in the lower welfare benefits for single adults, which he says are much less generous than those for women with children.

“That said, poverty traps are real.” Barro concludes. “This is the phenomenon of people losing benefits as they earn more income of their own. It's a problem that welfare programs need to be designed around.”

Either way, the Cato Institute’s report has opened up a whole new discussion on the role of welfare, and the minimum wage, in the country.

Alabama
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: No state minimum wage law

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,638

Known for having one of the longest navigable inland waterways in the country, Alabama became the 22nd state on December 10, 1817.

Alaska
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.75

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,275

Purchased from Russia for for $7.2 million on March 30, 1867, Alaska became the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.

Arizona
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.80

Total value of welfare benefits: $21,364

The last of the contiguous states (or states located among the main land states of North America that are south of Canada and North of Mexico) Arizona was admitted as the 48th state on February 14, 1912.

California
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $8.00

Total value of welfare benefits: $35,287

The most populous state in the country, California was admitted as the 31st U.S. state on September 9, 1850.

Connecticut
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $8.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $38,761

Known as "The Land of Steady Habits," Connecticut was admitted as the fifth state in the American union on January 9, 1788.

Delaware
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $30,375

Delaware was the first state to be admitted to the union. It's official statehood was declared on December 7, 1787.

District of Columbia
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $8.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $43,099

Founded in 1791 to serve as the nations capitol, the District of Columbia is governed under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. Therefore, it is not a part of any state.

Hawaii
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $49,175

The last of the 50 states to join the American union, Hawaii was officially admitted as a state on August 21, 1959.

Indiana
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,891

Home to some of the country's most prestigious universities, such as Purdue and Notre Dame, Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816.

Kansas
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,396

Named after a Native American tribe whose name roughly translates to mean "people of the wind," Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861.

Louisiana
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: There is no state minimum wage law.

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,538

Known primarily for its yearly Mardi Gras celebration, Louisiana was admitted as the 18th state in the union on April 30, 1812.

Maryland
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $35,672

Sometimes referred to as the "old line state," Maryland was admitted as the seventh state on April 28, 1788.

Massachusetts
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $8.00

Total value of welfare benefits: $42,515

The third most densely populated state in America, Massachusetts was admitted as the sixth state on February 6, 1788.

Michigan
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.40

Total value of welfare benefits: $28,872

Admitted into the Union on January 26, 1837, as the 26th state, Michigan also has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world.

Minnesota
Shutterstock

Minimum wage:

Large employer (enterprise with annual receipts of $625,000 or more): $6.15

Small employer (enterprise with annual receipts of less than $625,000):$5.25

Total value of welfare benefits: 31,603

Known as the "land of 10,000 lakes," Minnesota was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858.

Missouri
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.35

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,837

Known as "The show me state," Missouri was admitted as the 24th state on August 10, 1821.

Montana
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.80

State law except businesses with gross annual sales of $110,000 or less: $4.00

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,123

Though Montana is ranked fourth in size overall, it only ranks 44th in total population. Montana was the 41st state, admitted to the Union on November 8, 1889.

Nevada
Shutterstock

Minimum wage:

$8.25 (with no health ins. benefits provided by employer)

$7.25 (with health ins. benefits provided by employer and received by employee)

Total value of welfare benefits: $31,409

Admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864, Nevada earned the moniker "Battle born" because its statehood came amidst the conflict of the American Civil War.

New Hampshire
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $37,160

The first U.S. State to have its own constitution, New Hampshire became the ninth state on June 21, 1788.

New Jersey
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $38,728

Known as "The garden state," New Jersey was the third state admitted to the Union. It officially received statehood on December 18, 1787.

New Mexico
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.50

Total value of welfare benefits: $30,435

Admitted to the Union on January 6, 1912, New Mexico is the sixth least densely populated state in the country.

New York
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $38,004

Home to the most populous city in the country, New York became the 11th state admitted to the Union on July 26, 1788.

North Carolina
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $28,142

Famous for being the location of the Wright brothers' first flight, North Carolina was admitted as the 12th state on November 21, 1789.

North Dakota
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,439

Nicknamed "The peace garden state," North Dakota became the 39th U.S. state on November 2, 1889.

Ohio
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.85

$7.25 (for those employers grossing $283,000 or less)

Total value of welfare benefits: $28,723

The fact that Ohio was the birthplace of seven U.S. presidents has earned the state the nickname "Mother of the presidents." It became the 17th state, admitted to the Union on March 1, 1803.

Oklahoma
Shutterstock

Minimum wage:

Employers of ten or more full time employees at any one location and employers with annual gross sales over $100,000 irrespective of number of full time employees: $7.25

All other employers: $2.00

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,784

Oregon
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $8.95

Total value of welfare benefits: $31,674

Entering the Union on February 14, 1859, Oregon is the country's 33rd state to be admitted.

Pennsylvania
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,817

The sixth most populous state in the country, Pennsylvania was admitted as the second U.S. state on December 12, 1787.

Rhode Island
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.75

Total value of welfare benefits: $38,632

The smallest state in the country, Rhode Island was the last of the 13 original colonies to be admitted to the union. It was recognized as a state on May 29, 1790.

South Carolina
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: No state minimum wage law.

Total value of welfare benefits: $26,536

The first state to vote to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War, South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the U.S. constitution, which it did on May 23, 1788.

South Dakota
Shutterstock

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $29,439

Home to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889. It was the 40th state to be admitted.

Vermont
Wikimedia commons

Minimum wage: $8.60

Total value of welfare benefits: $37,705

Known as "The green mountain state," Vermont was admitted as the 14th state in the Union on March 4, 1791.

Washington
Wikimedia commons

Minimum wage: $9.19

Total value of welfare benefits: $30,816

Named after the the first president of the United States, Washington was admitted as the 42nd state on November 11, 1889 .

West Virginia
Wikimedia commons

Minimum wage: $7.25

Total value of welfare benefits: $27,727

The only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state during the Civil War, West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863.

Wyoming
Wikimedia commons

Minimum wage: $5.15

Total value of welfare benefits: $33,119

The least most populous state in the union, Wyoming was admitted as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.