Values and Public Policy / Edition 1

Values and Public Policy / Edition 1

by Henry Aaron
     
 

It is not uncommon to hear that poor school performance, welfare dependancy, youth unemployment, and criminal activity result more from shortcomings in the personal makeup of individuals than from societal forces beyond their control. Are American values declining as so many suggest? And are those values at the root of many social problems today?

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Overview

It is not uncommon to hear that poor school performance, welfare dependancy, youth unemployment, and criminal activity result more from shortcomings in the personal makeup of individuals than from societal forces beyond their control. Are American values declining as so many suggest? And are those values at the root of many social problems today?

Shaped by experience and public policies, people's values and social norms do change. What role can or should a democratic government play in shaping values? And how do these values conditon the efficacy of public policy?

In this book, six distinguished social scientists identify trends in America's values and their consequences, and consider public policy tools with which some of those values might be changed.

Daniel Yankelovich begins with a discussion of how American values have shifted in the last half-century, and argues that affluence is the driving force behind these changes in values. James Q. Wilson argues that destructive habits which can lead to social pathologies, like crime and drug use, are set early in life; he examines how public policy might intervene when children are young to promote better values. David Popenoe maintains that America has veered too far towards industrialist values, and explores the resulting decline of families and many attendant social ills. Nathan Glazer describes the history and present status of the dispute over multicultural education. Jane Mansbridge examines the process of building cooperation, consensus, and public spirit. And George Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen discuss the problem of gang criminality.

Inthe past, social scientists have often sidestepped questions about values as undefinable, unquantifiable, and somehow unscientific. The essays in this volume address these questions at last.

Henry J. Aaron, director of the Economic Studies program at Brookings, is the authorof numerous books, including most recently Serious and Unstable Condition: Financing America's Health Care (1991), and coeditor of Setting Domestic Priorities (1992). Thomas E. Mann is director of the Brookings Governmental Studies program, coeditor of Media Polls in American Politics (1992), and coauthor of the Renewing Congress series (1993). Timothy Taylor is managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives at Stanford University.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815700555
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
09/28/1994
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
230
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 9.07(h) x 0.67(d)
Lexile:
1490L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

1Introduction1
The Affluence Effect5
Culture, Incentives, and the Underclass6
Families, Values, and Family Values7
Multiculturalism8
Public Spirit and Private Interest9
Crime and the Community9
Values and Preferences, Norms, and Habituation10
Defining the Problem and Fixing It11
Final Thoughts14
2How Changes in the Economy Are Reshaping American Values16
Overview17
Truth and Relevance24
Major Changes in Values29
Conclusion50
3Culture, Incentives, and the Underclass54
What Incentives Cannot Explain57
Familial Habituation62
What Is Culture?63
Changing Culture65
Implications71
4The Family Condition of America: Cultural Change and Public Policy81
Biosocial Bases of the Family82
Cultural Change: Collectivism to Individualism83
Advanced Societies Today: Cultural Trade-Offs87
The Problem of America: Overindividualism89
Restoring Civil Society in America91
Nuclear Families: The Vital Factor95
Rebuilding the Nest101
The New Familism: A Hopeful Trend105
5Multiculturalism and Public Policy113
The Central Challenge of Multiculturalism: Identity and Effectiveness115
A New Word for an Old Problem122
The New York Story130
Can Truth Alone Guide Us?133
Where Is Multiculturalism Headed?138
6Public Spirit in Political Systems146
Solving Problems through Public Spirit147
Private Spirit Can Lead to Political Breakdown149
The Role of Public Spirit150
Creating Public Spirit in Political Systems153
Public Spirit in the United States: A Decline?160
Conclusion164
7Gang Behavior, Law Enforcement, and Community Values173
The Protagonists: Gangs, Community, Government176
A Model of Gang Behavior183
Community Norms and Crime Fighting Strategies188
Long-Run Consequences of Changing Norms191
Control over Territory194
Conclusion195
Appendix196
Short-Run Equilibrium199
Long-Run Equilibrium and Extensions of the Model204

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