The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

By Joel Blau | Go to book overview

3
The Economy and Social Welfare

Economics is usually defined as "the study of how societies use scarce re- sources to produce valuable commodities and distribute them among dif- ferent people."1 Such a broad definition should include social welfare. Yet most people continue to think of social welfare as a separate part of the modern economy. There is the market economy, the private sector, where profit guides decisions about people's investments and work, and then some- where off to the side there is social welfare for children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled—those who cannot cope in this demanding environment. This formulation is misleading. Seeking to divide the indivisible, it perpet- uates the idea that social welfare constitutes a charitable but not wholly essential addition to a perfectly functioning economy.

In reality, the role of social welfare in the modern U.S. economy includes three distinct tasks that go to the heart of our economic life. Without each one individually, and certainly without all of them together, the U.S. econ- omy could not operate.

As indicated in chapter 2, the first task of social welfare is to reduce economic insecurity. Social Security for the elderly performs this function, as do unemployment benefits for the unemployed, and TANF (popularly called welfare) for poor mothers and their children. By giving their recipients a little more money to spend, these programs supplement the total amount of con- sumer spending in the economy and cushion the effects of poverty.

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The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • I: Introducing Social Welfare Policy 1
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • 2: Mimi Abramovitz - Definition and Functions of Social Welfare Policy: Setting the Stage for Social Change 19
  • Ii: The Policy Model 55
  • 3: The Economy and Social Welfare 57
  • 4: The Politics of Social Welfare Policy 90
  • 5: Imi Abramovitz - Ideological Perspectives and Conflicts 119
  • 6: Mimi Abramovitz - Social Movements and Social Change 174
  • 7: Social Welfare History in the United States 220
  • Iii: Policy Analyses 278
  • 8: Income Support 279
  • 9: Jobs and Job Training 312
  • 10: Housing: Programs and Policies 337
  • 11: Health Care 373
  • 12: Food and Hunger 403
  • Iv: Conclusions 431
  • 13: If You Want to Analyze a Policy … 433
  • Notes 437
  • Figure Credits 479
  • Index 481
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