How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare Stateby Andrea Louise Campbell
Some groups participate in politics more than others. Why? And does it matter for policy outcomes? In this richly detailed and fluidly written book, Andrea Campbell argues that democratic participation and public policy powerfully reinforce each other. Through a case study of senior citizens in the United States and their political activity around Social Security,
Some groups participate in politics more than others. Why? And does it matter for policy outcomes? In this richly detailed and fluidly written book, Andrea Campbell argues that democratic participation and public policy powerfully reinforce each other. Through a case study of senior citizens in the United States and their political activity around Social Security, she shows how highly participatory groups get their policy preferences fulfilled, and how public policy itself helps create political inequality.
Using a wealth of unique survey and historical data, Campbell shows how the development of Social Security helped transform seniors from the most beleaguered to the most politically active age group. Thus empowered, seniors actively defend their programs from proposed threats, shaping policy outcomes. The participatory effects are strongest for low-income seniors, who are most dependent on Social Security. The program thus reduces political inequality within the senior population--a laudable effect--while increasing inequality between seniors and younger citizens.
A brief look across policies shows that program effects are not always positive. Welfare recipients are even less participatory than their modest socioeconomic backgrounds would imply, because of the demeaning and disenfranchising process of proving eligibility. Campbell concludes that program design profoundly shapes the nature of democratic citizenship. And proposed policies--such as Social Security privatization--must be evaluated for both their economic and political effects, because the very quality of democratic government is influenced by the kinds of policies it chooses.
"This is a persuasively argued, well-researched, and nicely written work that makes a key contribution to our understanding of the politics of Social Security retirement insurance. Because of the singular importance of Social Security as a domestic federal program, . . . Campbell's study fills a significant gap."--Gary Mucciaroni, Perspectives on Politics
- Princeton University Press
- Publication date:
- Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 5 MB
What People are Saying About This
Christine L. Day, University of New Orleans, author of "What Older Americans Think"
Eric Patashnik, University of Virginia, author of "Putting Trust in the U.S. Budget"
Meet the Author
Andrea Louise Campbell is Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy at Yale University from 2001-2003.
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