Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or Leader?

Paperback | February 22, 2010

byIrwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, Timothy Smeeding

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This book explores the role of the welfare state in the overall wealth and wellbeing of nations and in particular looks at the American welfare state in comparison with other developed nations in Europe and elsewhere.It is widely believed that the welfare state undermines productivity and economic growth, that the United States has an unusually small welfare state, and that it is, and always has been, a welfare state laggard. This book shows that all rich nations, including the United States, have large welfarestates because the socialized programs that comprise the welfare state - public education and health and social insurance - enhance the productivity of capitalism. In public education, the most productive part of the welfare state, for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the United States was aleader. Though few would argue that public education is not part of the welfare state, most previous cross national analyses of welfare states have omitted education. Including education has profound consequences, undergirding the case for the productivity of welfare state programs and the explanation forwhy all rich nations have large welfare states, and identifying US welfare state leadership. From 1968 through 2006, the United States swung right politically and lost its lead in education and opportunity, failed to adopt universal health insurance and experienced the most rapid explosion of healthcare costs and economic inequality in the rich world. The American welfare state faces large challenges. Restoring its historical lead in education is the most important but requires investing large sums in education, beginning with universal pre-school and in complementary programs that aid children's development. The American health insurance systemis by far the most costly in the rich world, yet fails to insure one sixth of its population, produces below average results, crowds out useful investments in children, and is the least equitably financed. Achieving universal coverage will increase costs. Only complete government financing is likelyto restrain long term costs.

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This book explores the role of the welfare state in the overall wealth and wellbeing of nations and in particular looks at the American welfare state in comparison with other developed nations in Europe and elsewhere.It is widely believed that the welfare state undermines productivity and economic growth, that the United States has an ...

Irwin Garfinkel is the Mitchell I. Ginsberg Professor of Contemporary Urban Problems and co-director of the Columbia Population Research Center. A social worker and an economist by training and a former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), he has authored or co-authored over 180 scientific articles and twelve books...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:226 pagesPublished:February 22, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199579318

ISBN - 13:9780199579310

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Why All Rich Nations Have Large Welfare States3. The Size, Nature, And Universality of Welfare State Transfers4. How Welfare State Programs Redistribute Income, Reduce Poverty and Inequality, Build and Sustain Human Capital, and Promote Opportunity5. A Short American Centric History of Welfare State Programs and Outcomes6. Explaining American Exceptionalism: Laggard in Public Relief and Social Insurance: Leader in Education7. Explaining Us Divergence in Last Quarter of 20th Century: The Long Swing Right8. The Future of the American Welfare State