Child Labor and the Mothers' Pension Movement
It is equally necessary to ask ourselves what it will cost society to restrict or abolish child labor. This cost will be measured largely in terms of the cost of additional schools . . . and some additional relief for poverty.
-- Samuel M. Lindsay, 1907233
Unfortunately, social scientists have lost sight of some important facts about the origins of the early American welfare state because of a collective slighting of the Progressive Era. 234 Usually we trace the origins of the welfare state to the Great Depression when the federal government first became active in relief efforts. 235 Decades before the Depression, however, Progressive activists had already laid the foundations of the modern welfare state through their successful campaign to institute state-level workers' compensation and mothers' pension programs. By investigating the linkage between these early state-level programs and the prior campaign to end child labor, we will get a clearer idea of the historically unprecedented need that lies behind the origins of these modern welfare programs.
Existing theories of the origins of the welfare state lead us to suppose that different programs should react uniformly to the stated cause, be it modernization, party competition, or mass mobilization. However, if we turn our attention to the state-level reforms of the Progressive Era, it quickly becomes apparent that it is futile to define any single cause for the rise of welfare programs. This is true for the simple reason that the