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Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy

Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy: Western States in the New World Order

Katherine McFate
Roger Lawson
William Julius Wilson
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 768
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610446686
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  • Book Info
    Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy
    Book Description:

    "Extremely coherent and useful, this much needed volume is concerned with the current status of the poor in Western industrial states. Its closely linked essays allow comparisons between case studies and are often themselves cross-national comparisons....The essays also comment on the meaning of globalization for social policy." -Choice

    "Excellent and tightly integrated articles by a group of prominent international scholars....A timely and important book, which will surely become the basic reference point for all future research on inequality and social policy." -Contemporary Sociology

    The social safety net is under strain in all Western nations, as social and economic change has created problems that traditional welfare systems were not designed to handle.Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policyprovides a definitive analysis of the conditions that are fraying the social fabric and the reasons why some countries have been more successful than others in addressing these trends. In the United States, where the poverty rate in the 1980s was twice that of any advanced nation in Europe, the social protection system-and public support for it-has eroded alarmingly. In Europe, the welfare system more effectively buffered the disadvantaged, but social expenditures have been indicted by many as the principal cause of high unemployment.

    Concluding chapters review the progress and goals of social welfare programs, assess their viability in the face of creeping economic, racial, and social fragmentation, and define the challenges that face those concerned with social cohesion and economic prosperity in the new global economy. This volume illuminates the disparate effects of government intervention on the incidence and duration of poverty in Western countries.Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policyis full of lessons for anyone who would look beyond the limitations of the welfare debate in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-668-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: WESTERN STATES IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER
    (pp. 1-26)
    Katherine McFate

    We are living through a period of profound social and economic change. Advances in information, communication, and transportation technologies have tied nation states into an increasingly complex web of global trade and production. Japanese, American, and European firms compete for market share, as engineers in New Delhi and Silicon Valley vie for computer software contracts. Today, the emerging industrial “dragons” of South Asia have a larger percentage of their workforce in manufacturing than the oldest industrial countries of the West.¹ New technologies have redistributed employment opportunities worldwide. As a result, Western labor markets have become more fragmented and the demand...

  5. Part I POVERTY, INCOME INEQUALITY, AND LABOR MARKET INSECURITY:: A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE

    • Chapter 1 MARKETS AND STATES: POVERTY TRENDS AND TRANSFER SYSTEM EFFECTIVENESS IN THE 1980s
      (pp. 29-66)
      Katherine McFate, Timothy Smeeding and Lee Rainwater

      Changes in the labor markets of advanced industrial societies over the past decade and a half left significant numbers of working age citizens without adequate private support, so that by the end of the 1980s, both “reluctant welfare states” and “redistributive regimes” found their safety nets straining under the burden of expanding numbers of non-elderly poor. This chapter examines changes in the amount of market-generated poverty in the United States, Canada, France, (the former) West Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the Netherlands in the 1980s and finds that, despite large differences in the distribution of employment and earnings, the...

    • Chapter 2 POVERTY AND SOCIAL-ASSISTANCE DYNAMICS IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND EUROPE
      (pp. 67-108)
      Greg J. Duncan, Björn Gustafsson, Richard Hauser, Günther Schmaus, Stephen Jenkins, Hans Messinger, Ruud Muffels, Brian Nolan, Jean-Claude Ray and Wolfgang Voges

      All modern industrialized countries have developed sophisticated government programs to reduce the adverse financial consequences of labor market and demographic events and establish minimum living standards for poor families. Most combine social insurance against specific labor market events such as unemployment, disability, and retirement; social assistance that distributes benefits to low-income families according to their means; and universal benefits like child allowances or tax credits that have weak or no links to a family’s income.

      Despite the long history of such programs, we know very little about their collective success in mitigating the risks of economic insecurity and promoting financial...

    • Chapter 3 A COMPARISON OF POVERTY AND LIVING CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, SWEDEN, AND GERMANY
      (pp. 109-152)
      Susan Mayer

      Both Americans and Europeans worry about poverty in part because the poor suffer from important material deprivations such as inadequate housing, medical care, and food consumption. Deprivations such as these not only reflect individuals’ life chances, they may also affect those life chances. Even those who deny that money can buy happiness usually believe that money can buy homes, cars, food, and medical care, and that those who have these things are more likely to be full participants in society than those who go without them.

      Since 1960, American social welfare policy has tried to eliminate absolute material deprivations such...

    • Chapter 4 LABOR INSECURITY THROUGH MARKET REGULATION: LEGACY OF THE 1980s, CHALLENGE FOR THE 1990s
      (pp. 153-196)
      Guy Standing

      Western Europe has experienced more than a decade of chronically high unemployment; the United States has experienced more than a decade in which “poor jobs” have grown while “good jobs” have shrunk.¹ On both sides of the Atlantic, poverty and income inequality have grown steadily. As of summer 1992, the short-term and medium-term prospects for reducing both unemployment and the number in poverty remain bleak.

      The nature of labor markets in industrialized economies changed in the 1980s. Compared with the long postwar era of full employment and advancing labor security, the 1980s was an era of labor fragmentation and insecurity....

    • Chapter 5 THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE, DEINDUSTRIALIZATION, AND INTERNATIONALIZATION OF TRADE ON EARNINGS INEQUALITY: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 197-228)
      Petter Gottschalk and Mary Joyce

      The united states has experienced substantial increases in inequality of wage rates and family income during the 1970s and 1980s. Highly educated workers, who were already receiving above-average wages in the 1970s, received substantial raises during the 1980s. At the other end of the spectrum, high school dropouts and high school graduates experienced actual declines in pay.

      Inequality increased not only between education groups but also among persons of the same age and with the same education. The increase in dispersion of wages among workers with the same characteristics has further exacerbated the problem for those at the bottom of...

  6. Part II CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURES:: PUBLIC POLICY AND LONE-PARENT FAMILIES

    • Chapter 6 GENDER ROLE AND FAMILY STRUCTURE CHANGES IN THE ADVANCED INDUSTRIALIZED WEST: IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL POLICY
      (pp. 231-256)
      Sheila B. Kamerman

      Changes in gender roles and in family structure are entwined with changes in marriage, divorce, childbearing, women’s employment, and parenting. As Larry Bumpass said in his 1990 address to the Population Association of America, “Changes in one family domain may contribute to further changes in that domain or others.”¹ In effect, changes in gender roles and family structures are both cause and effect; together they interact with the family economy and have major consequences for child and family economic well-being.

      Although there are differences in degree, the pattern and rate of change in family structure and female work roles in...

    • Chapter 7 FRENCH POLICIES TOWARDS LONE PARENTS: SOCIAL CATEGORIES AND SOCIAL POLICIES
      (pp. 257-290)
      Nadine Lefaucheur

      Social categories mold social policies. It is significant that the term “loneparent families” (familles monoparentales) was not used in France until the 1970s. In the preceding century, families without two married adults were divided into narrower categories like unmarried mothers, widows, and widowers, etc., or were lumped together and mixed with stepfamilies into one large group referred to as “broken families” (familles dissociées).

      The category of “broken families” appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, when dramatic changes in French economic and social life raised a number of questions regarding the proper socialization of children and the appropriate role...

    • Chapter 8 SINGLE MOTHERS IN SWEDEN: WHY IS POVERTY LESS SEVERE?
      (pp. 291-326)
      Siv Gustafsson

      Families headed by single mothers in Sweden are much less likely to be poor than lone-parent families in the United States, West Germany, the United Kingdom, or Canada according to research relying on Luxembourg Income Study data.¹ Less than 6 percent of lone-parent families in Sweden were poor in 1987 compared to over 25 percent in West Germany (in 1984) and 53 percent in the United States (in 1986). Nonetheless, single-mother families are still an economically vulnerable group compared to dual-earner families (Gustafsson 1990), even though the evidence shows that the economic hardships associated with being a single mother are...

    • Chapter 9 LONE PARENTS: THE CANADIAN EXPERIENCE
      (pp. 327-366)
      Ruth Rose

      “The feminization of poverty” was an expression heard with increasing frequency in Canada during the 1980s. However, the proportion of the Canadian adult poor who are women has not been rising. In 1975, women represented 59 percent of all poor adults in Canada. By 1981 the figure rose to 61 percent but by 1987 returned to 59 percent. It is the increase in poor families headed by women in Canada over the past three decades that is striking. Since 1961, the percentage of poor families headed by a lone mother has grown from 13.2 percent to 16.6 percent in 1969,...

    • Chapter 10 SINGLE-MOTHER FAMILIES AND SOCIAL POLICY: LESSONS FOR THE UNITED STATES FROM CANADA, FRANCE, AND SWEDEN
      (pp. 367-384)
      Sara McLanahan and Irwin Garfinkel

      The debate over policy toward single mothers takes place in the context of a more general debate over who shall pay the social and economic costs of raising children. This debate is taking place on both a private and public front. On the private front, the controversy is between mothers and fathers; the issue is how to distribute child-rearing obligations in a way that is equitable to both sexes. On the public front, the controversy is between society and parents; the issue is how much of the costs of raising a child should be borne by the government and how...

  7. Part III YOUTH LABOR MARKET POLICIES

    • Chapter 11 IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH THE YOUTH LABOR MARKET, AND IF SO, HOW SHOULD WE FIX IT? Lessons for the United States from U.S. and European Experience
      (pp. 387-414)
      Paul Osterman

      The employment difficulties facing American youth have long been at the center of labor market policy. In the early 1960s the initial emphasis of the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) on “mainstream” adults quickly shifted to focus on inner-city youths. Much, if not most, of the job training associated with the War on Poverty (the Neighborhood Youth Corps, the Job Corps, and the summer jobs program) was targeted toward young people. The expansion of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in the 1970s consisted of Public Service Employment and Youth Demonstration Projects. Young people still receive a disproportionate...

    • Chapter 12 APPRENTICE TRAINING IN GERMANY: THE EXPERIENCES OF THE 1980s
      (pp. 415-438)
      Bernard Casey

      In the mid-1980s the German apprenticeship scheme faced what was possibly its most severe challenge. While favorably regarded, and even held up as a model for emulation by outsiders, the dual system’s ability to deliver quality training to the large mass of school-leavers was in question. By the end of the 1980s, however, the symptoms of crisis had largely disappeared. A consensus had developed that the “dual system” had passed the test and that it had the potential to provide Germany with the highly skilled workforce it needed to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. This chapter reviews the...

    • Chapter 13 SPECIAL MEASURES TO IMPROVE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN ITALY
      (pp. 439-460)
      Enrico Pugliese

      Unemployment in italy is found mainly among the young. Unemployment touches young people in all regions of Italy and from every social class. Although young people represent less than a third of the Italian workforce, three-quarters of all unemployed persons in Italy in 1988 were under 30 years old. However, educational credentials, gender, and residence mitigate the severity and length of youthful unemployment.

      Young people from middle-class backgrounds with good educational qualifications tend to experience a period of unemployment when leaving school but eventually settle into permanent jobs; those with less education have greater difficulty finding permanent employment. Because the...

    • Chapter 14 POSTINDUSTRIALIZATION AND YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: AFRICAN AMERICANS AS HARBINGERS
      (pp. 461-486)
      Troy Duster

      In both academic and policy circles, there is a remarkable consensus about the nature of the great economic and social transformation of Western industrialized societies over the last quarter century. In particular, there is general agreement that the important and decisive shift from predominantly industrial to mainly service economies has been accompanied by select and patterned “dislocations” that are true for all nations that have a declining manufacturing sector. Perhaps most significantly, what is common to declining secondary-sector economies is the attendant sharp increase in youth unemployment without regard to ethnic or cultural variation.¹

      While economists, sociologists, public policy analysts,...

  8. Part IV MINORITIES IN ADVANCED INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES

    • Chapter 15 DIVERGENT DESTINIES: IMMIGRATION, POVERTY, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES
      (pp. 489-520)
      Alejandro Portes and Min Zhou

      Contemporary immigration to the United States is seldom associated with the traumas of poverty in the specialized literature. This is not due to the absence of objective indicators of poverty, such as low incomes, among recent immigrants, but to the low incidence of those social pathologies commonly associated with the domestic “underclass” (Marks 1991). Instead, the areas where the foreign born concentrate are characterized by a different set of social traits including the widespread use of languages other than English, great diversity in terms of both national origins and socioeconomic backgrounds, the large and semi-open presence of unauthorized aliens, and...

    • Chapter 16 THE IMPACT OF ECONOMIC CHANGE ON MINORITIES AND MIGRANTS IN WESTERN EUROPE
      (pp. 521-542)
      Ian Gordon

      The experience of ethnic minorities in Western Europe represents an interaction between two main sets of factors. First is the continuing perception that particular ethnic groups do not “belong” and may appropriately be treated differently from the mass of workers or citizens in the country. Second, there are changing economic circumstances and forms of organization, which condition countries’ appetite for such marginal labor and the types of economic niche toward which it is channeled.

      The present “minority” populations in Europe reflect major postwar waves of international migration into the leading industrial economies of the welfare states. Earlier migrant groups have...

    • Chapter 17 THE COMPARATIVE STRUCTURE AND EXPERIENCE OF URBAN EXCLUSION: “RACE,” CLASS, AND SPACE IN CHICAGO AND PARIS
      (pp. 543-570)
      Loïc J. D. Wacquant

      Urban inequalities—among classes, racial or ethnic groups, households, cities, and neighborhoods—in advanced nation-states such as the United States, France, Great Britain, or the Netherlands have increased noticeably over the past two decades. Persistent joblessness, material deprivation, and ethnoracial tensions are on the upswing throughout much of Western Europe and North America as segments of the urban population of these countries appear to have become increasingly marginalized and segregated economically, socially, and spatially. Thus, while American inner cities have experienced rapidly accelerating dislocations and degradation since the 1960s, many traditional working-class towns and boroughs in Europe have also undergone...

    • Chapter 18 IMMIGRATION, MARGINALITY, AND FRENCH SOCIAL POLICY
      (pp. 571-584)
      Sophie Body-Gendrot

      To what extent is the French response to immigration, social policy, and hard-core urban problems different from other industrial countries? Unique historical and institutional factors mold the French perception of the nation, of the way foreigners are and should be integrated in society, and of what immigration policy should be. However, as is the case elsewhere in Europe, France is now at a turning point, and change seems imminent.

      For a long time, the French perceived their country as ethnically homogeneous. In contrast to the experience of America, a nation that ritually celebrates its immigrants, in most works “in search...

    • Chapter 19 POVERTY, IMMIGRATION, AND MINORITY GROUPS: POLICIES TOWARD MINORITIES IN GREAT BRITAIN
      (pp. 585-606)
      Colin Brown

      The ethnic mix of minorities in the British population and the history of their development differ greatly from the makeup and evolution of minorities in the United States. Probably the most obvious difference is in the timing. Minority groups identifiable by skin color are relatively new to Great Britain, but other differences are equally important. To understand the present social position of the minorities, it is vital to comprehend why their families came to Britain and the conditions under which that migration occurred.

      Great Britain owes much of its identity to migrants and invaders whose cultural and genealogical roots extend...

    • Chapter 20 ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE NETHERLANDS
      (pp. 607-628)
      Justus Veenman

      The netherlands has one of the highest population densities in the world. Covering only 16,000 square miles, it is inhabited by approximately 15 million people, on average 950 inhabitants per square mile. Given this fact, it is hardly surprising that a succession of Dutch governments has encouraged emigration. An active emigration policy was pursued in the first decades after World War II, and between 1945 and 1960, more than half a million Dutch people left the country for residence abroad—particularly in Canada, Australia, and the United States.

      However, despite governmental attempts to encourage emigration, the Netherlands also received a...

  9. Part V THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL POLICY

    • Chapter 21 TRAMPOLINES, SAFETY NETS, OR FREE FALL? LABOR MARKET POLICIES AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE IN THE 1980s
      (pp. 631-664)
      Katherine McFate

      As economic restructuring left larger numbers of citizens outside the mainstream labor force, and policymakers faced the prospect of a growing number of marginalized “prime age” workers, a new policy orthodoxy began to take shape. The main outlines of the doctrine are as follows. Traditional social-assistance programs are too passive; they allow citizens to withdraw from the workforce for long periods. But in a dynamic, rapidly changing economy, a prolonged period of joblessness can lead to skill deterioration and reduce an individual’s real and perceived “employability.” A better way to help people adjust to economic restructuring would be to reshape...

    • Chapter 22 THE SOCIAL QUESTION
      (pp. 665-692)
      Hugh Heclo

      Some time in the early 1990s the United States tipped over the edge, demographically speaking, into the twenty-first century. We reached the point where a majority of Americans will spend more of their lives in the next century than in the twentieth century.

      There are other ways of marking how that new century is already with us. The next century’s first high school and college graduating classes are now in grade school. So, too, is much of the early twenty-first century’s prison population. The new century’s first teenage dropouts, unwed mothers, and youth offenders have now left the toddler stage....

    • Chapter 23 POVERTY, SOCIAL RIGHTS, AND THE QUALITY OF CITIZENSHIP
      (pp. 693-714)
      Roger Lawson and William Julius Wilson

      The chapters in this volume leave little doubt that the period since the late 1970s marks a watershed in poverty, inequality, and social policy on both sides of the Atlantic. With the erosion of the protective systems of social and economic cooperation erected in the earlier postwar era, a growing section of the workforce is now more likely to be exposed to the vagaries of the labor market. Economic insecurity has been accompanied by family breakdown and inferior and uncertain forms of public assistance. For an increasingly vulnerable minority population, the prospects are a life more or less detached from...

  10. NAME INDEX
    (pp. 715-722)
  11. SUBJECT INDEX
    (pp. 723-756)