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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the scholarly literature on poverty and U.S. social policy. We contend that several social policies effectively reduce poverty. Before doing so, the chapter presents the serious problems with the official U.S. measure of poverty and advocate for alternative measures. The chapter then evaluates the evidence regarding the most salient programs, such as social insurance. Attention is paid to understudied programs regarding work-family balance and health. The chapter also discusses prominent debates including those regarding welfare reform and “moving to opportunity.” The conclusion emphasizes the limitations of the literature’s exclusive focus on the U.S. case, and argues that the field would benefit from greater incorporation of the comparative social-policy literature.

Keywords: poverty, welfare, social insurance, comparative social policy, poverty measurement, work and family

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