- 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
Social policy plays a central role in redistributing resources to ensure greater equality or at least increased opportunities for members of disadvantaged groups. This essay considers how the U.S. welfare state redistributes incomes through social policies, while reinforcing other forms of stratification. The essay begins by comparing inequality in the United States to other advanced industrialized countries, and shows that the level of income inequality is higher in the United States than in most of these nations. It then presents data on inequality in the United States by race and gender. Finally, it discusses how specific policies alter levels of inequality by redistributing income or institutionalizing sources of income inequality. In general, U.S. social policies help to reduce inequality, but they have limited effectiveness, particularly in comparison to other advanced industrialized countries, in reducing inequality by race, class, gender, and family structure.
Stephanie Moller is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
Joya Misra is Professor of Sociology & Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts.
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