- The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy
- List of Contributors
- The Fragmented American Welfare State: Putting the Pieces Together
- Social Provision before the Twentieth Century
- The Progressive Era
- The Great Depression and World War II
- From the Fair Deal to the Great Society
- The U.S. Welfare State Since 1970
- A Cross-National Perspective on the American Welfare State
- Cultural Influences on Social Policy Development
- Political Institutions and U.S. Social Policy
- Political Parties and Social Policy
- Interest Groups
- Constituencies and Public Opinion
- Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Social Policy
- Social Security
- Private Pensions
- Long-Term Care for the Elderly
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- The Politics of Supporting Low-Wage Workers and Families
- Food Assistance Programs and Food Security
- Public Housing and Vouchers
- Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment Insurance
- Care and Work-Family Policies
- Homeownership Policy
- Private Health Insurance: Tax Breaks, Regulation, and Politics
- Pension and Health Benefits for Public-Sector Workers
- Social Programs for Soldiers and Veterans
Abstract and Keywords
United States political institutions provide a compelling account of American exceptionalism in social policy: why the United States has a social insurance system that was late to develop and remains incomplete; spends relatively little on direct social policy; and relies on indirect and private social policy that is relatively ineffective in addressing poverty, insecurity, and inequality. Formal political institutions—including the tardiness of universal suffrage, many institutional veto points, federalism, the underdevelopment of domestic administrative authority, and a political party system founded on patronage and skewed to the right—go far to explain the formation of this unusual welfare state. Feedbacks from policies, political institutions themselves, help to explain why a few U.S. social programs, notably Social Security, remain strong, and why the U.S welfare state generally remains mired in the residual liberal model and is subject to drift. Feedbacks related to the world’s most extensive military and imprisonment policies also harm social policy.
Edwin Amenta is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine.
Amber Celina Tierney, Department of Sociology, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA.
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