The Welfare State Nobody Knows: Debunking Myths about U.S. Social Policy / Edition 1

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Overview

"Forget what you thought you knew. Christopher Howard takes us on an eye-opening, mind-expanding, entirely unexpected tour of the American welfare state. He describes a big, popular, sprawling, often Republican system that—thanks to cherished American institutions like federalism—does not work very well. Smart, wise, synthetic, funny, and iconoclastic—The Welfare State Nobody Knows is required reading for everybody who wants to know about welfare, about politics, or about the United States."—James A. Morone, author of Hellfire Nation and The Democratic Wish

"Christopher Howard is one of the most original and provocative students of the American welfare state—and this book splendidly sums up his insights. We learn that the American welfare state is larger and more dynamic than many have believed—yet, to this day, it fails to ameliorate inequality or poverty. Scholars and citizens alike will find that this book raises questions and provides answers nowhere else to be found."—Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

"Highly informative, original, and concise."—Martha Derthick, University of Virginia

"In The Welfare State Nobody Knows, Christopher Howard compellingly reveals an American welfare state that is at once larger than previously acknowledged and yet incapable of solving the fundamental social problems confronting the nation. The book, which combines narrative accounts and quantitative analysis, is up to date but historically grounded. It is also, at times, appropriately contentious. The book is a must read for anyone committed to understanding the unique character of social policy and politics in the U.S."—Mark A. Peterson, UCLA School of Public Affairs

"In this myth-busting book, Christopher Howard challenges cherished notions about the American welfare state—that it consists of two tiers with generous social insurance benefits for the middle class and stingy means-test benefits for the poor, that it emerged with two 'big bangs' in the 1930s and 1960s, that it is smaller than its European counterparts, and that the elderly usurp an unfair share of national resources. Beautifully written and clearly argued, The Welfare State Nobody Knows should be required reading for all students interested in American political development."—Jill Quadagno, Florida State University

"Howard provides ample food for thought-offering new perspectives on old questions, challenging prevailing stories about American social welfare policy, and sowing the seeds for more creative research and thought. The book's catchy, readable style and its attention to how to think about issues—questions to ask, data to consider, methods to use, and ways to assess our comfort or discomfort with results—engage the reader in applying the critical thinking skills that are essential to evaluating and participating in public policy."—Judith Feder, Georgetown University

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Children and Poverty - Carrie A. Ross
The Welfare State Nobody Knows goes a long way to fill in the gap left by previous research intended to quantify and categorize the American welfare state. Howard's combination of quantitative and qualitative tools is refreshing.
American Journal of Sociology - Daniel Beland
The Welfare State Nobody Knows is without doubt an insightful, provocative, and wide-ranging book that should reach a broad scholarly audience. In the classroom and in scholarly publications, the book will undoubtedly stimulate lively debates about the nature, history, and politics of American social policy. All students of American social policy would benefit from reading it.
American Journal of Sociology - Daniel Béland
The Welfare State Nobody Knows is without doubt an insightful, provocative, and wide-ranging book that should reach a broad scholarly audience. In the classroom and in scholarly publications, the book will undoubtedly stimulate lively debates about the nature, history, and politics of American social policy. All students of American social policy would benefit from reading it.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2007

"The Welfare State Nobody Knows goes a long way to fill in the gap left by previous research intended to quantify and categorize the American welfare state. Howard's combination of quantitative and qualitative tools is refreshing."—Carrie A. Ross, Journal of Children and Poverty

"The Welfare State Nobody Knows is without doubt an insightful, provocative, and wide-ranging book that should reach a broad scholarly audience. In the classroom and in scholarly publications, the book will undoubtedly stimulate lively debates about the nature, history, and politics of American social policy. All students of American social policy would benefit from reading it."—Daniel Béland, American Journal of Sociology

Journal of Children and Poverty
The Welfare State Nobody Knows goes a long way to fill in the gap left by previous research intended to quantify and categorize the American welfare state. Howard's combination of quantitative and qualitative tools is refreshing.
— Carrie A. Ross
American Journal of Sociology
The Welfare State Nobody Knows is without doubt an insightful, provocative, and wide-ranging book that should reach a broad scholarly audience. In the classroom and in scholarly publications, the book will undoubtedly stimulate lively debates about the nature, history, and politics of American social policy. All students of American social policy would benefit from reading it.
— Daniel Béland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691138336
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Howard is the Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of "The Hidden Welfare State" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

List of Boxes, Figures, and Tables vii
Acknowledgments ix
Acronyms xiii

INTRODUCTION 1

PART I: Basic Tour 11

CHAPTER 1: She's So Unusual 13
CHAPTER 2: Tracks of My Tiers 27
CHAPTER 3: Twice in a Lifetime 53

PART II: New Horizons 71

CHAPTER 4: Ogres, Onions, and Layers (or, How Republicans Built the American Welfare State) 73
CHAPTER 5: Programs for the Poor Are Not Always Poor Programs 92
CHAPTER 6: Shaq Is Still Pretty Tall: Public Support for the American Welfare State 109
CHAPTER 7: The World According to AARP 125

PART III: Checkpoints and Roadblocks 151

CHAPTER 8: The American States: Laboratories of Democracy or Cryogenic Chambers? 153
CHAPTER 9: Race Still Matters 178
CHAPTER 10: Change versus Progress 192

Notes 211
Index 255

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