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Welfare Justice

Welfare Justice: Restoring Social Equity

Neil Gilbert
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Welfare Justice
    Book Description:

    Over the past several decades the welfare state has become increasingly unfair, says Neil Gilbert in this fresh and provocative book. He analyzes some critical developments: traditional welfare arrangements have failed to accommodate the changing character of family life and gender equality; groups identifying themselves as victims (feminists, gays, disabled people, older people, and others) have increasingly demanded new social rights while ignoring the need to enlarge civic responsibilities; advocates have exaggerated the prevalence of such social ills as rape and child abuse, thus muddying policy deliberations; and a hidden welfare state has evolved that delivers huge subsidies to the middle and upper classes-for health, housing, daycare, and pensions-in the midst of growing resentment against welfare spending for the poor.Gilbert argues that policymakers need to develop programs that balance the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and they need to take a hard look at exactly who benefits from government resources. He calls for a new form of social protection to supersede the welfare state: the "enabling state," where citizens are treated not as passive recipients of public benefits and care but as individuals capable of looking after themselves with occasional assistance from the government. The central challenge of the enabling state will be to create a system of social protection that encourages private responsibility while maintaining an equitable framework of humane public care for those unable to assist themselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14660-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Welfare-state expenditures were poised for a historic takeoff in almost every Western democracy in 1960. The public contentment sensed by Gunnar Myrdal at that time might well have derived from the increasing entitlements to social benefits, shortly to come due in advanced welfare states. The mood changed, however, as the growth in spending leveled off after 1975. Over the next decade, the guarded optimism of quiet satisfaction with modern welfare states was replaced by the language of crisis and retreat. Part of the difficulty was that as programs matured, expenditures could not keep up with the rising needs of aging...

  5. Chapter 1 Strengthening Family: Social Security and Gender Equality
    (pp. 1-26)

    When the American social welfare system took shape during the New Deal, married life embodied both the traditional division of labor—husband at work, wife at home caring for children—and hierarchical gender relationships. Much about families has changed since then. Although the changes are often characterized as liberating for women, freeing them from the despotic patriarchy of the mid-twentieth century, traditional Victorian family life was considerably more oppressive than the oft cited (and rather amiable) relations between Ozzie and Harriet. Trollope’s novels testify to the suffocating state of wedlock frequently experienced by women in Victorian times, even among the...

  6. Chapter 2 Empowering Children and Teenage Mothers: The Presumption of Competence
    (pp. 27-62)

    The Great Society programs of the early 1960s launched almost two decades of expansion that transformed the American welfare state along several important dimensions. Measured by direct public expenditures between 1960 and 1980, the size of the welfare state almost doubled, from 10 percent to 19 percent of the gross national product. The rate of growth was remarkable compared with the relatively steady level of outlays between 1940 and 1960, when social welfare expenditures hovered at 10 percent of the GNP. Although a large part of the growth is attributable to the rising costs of social insurance for an aging...

  7. Chapter 3 Changing the Philosophy of welfare: From Entitlements to Incentives
    (pp. 63-83)

    Entitlements to social benefits increased with the development of modern welfare systems not only in the United States but in most industrialized democracies as well. The rise is reflected in the growth of social expenditures, the average volume of which doubled, from 12.3 percent to 24.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), among twenty-one member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development between 1960 and 1985 (OECD, 1988).¹ Although direct social expenditures are just a crude estimate of total welfare spending (see Chapter 5), these figures convey a sense of the powerful tides of expansion that buoyed...

  8. Chapter 4 Miscounting Social Ills: Sexual Assault and Advocacy Research
    (pp. 84-128)

    To establish a fairer system of social protection involves not only balancing the social rights and responsibilities of AFDC mothers, elderly people, disabled people, and other needy groups but also achieving an equitable distribution of public resources among them. This is a complicated process that requires more than the calibration of benefits to empirical measures of need. Beyond assessing levels of deprivation, policymakers’ appraisals of what constitutes an equitable distribution are influenced by the characteristics of the groups in need and by estimates of the effectiveness of public aid in helping them to solve their problems. Policymakers rarely ignore the...

  9. Chapter 5 Asking Who Benefits: Hidden Subsidies and Private Delivery
    (pp. 129-147)

    Most Americans earn an income and meet their needs for essential goods and services through market exchanges. Food, housing, clothing, and sundry personal services are purchased over the counter, so to speak, in discrete transactions between buyer and seller. Unlike the quid pro quo of exchange in the market economy, the welfare state distributes cash, goods, and services to individuals in unilateral transfers from public and private sources. The cash, goods, and services are allocated through what is sometimes described as the social market of the welfare state. From this perspective, the welfare state is a system for allocating resources...

  10. Chapter 6 Enabling Citizens: Beyond the Welfare State
    (pp. 148-172)

    Many analytic schemes have been devised to classify modern welfare states. In one of the earliest efforts, Harold Wilensky and Charles Lebeaux (1958) distinguished between “institutional” and “residual” models. In the institutional model, welfare transfers are considered a normal ongoing function of the state, designed to meet a wide range of people’s needs; in the residual model, welfare transfers are designed more as emergency measures to employ when family and market fail to perform adequately. Expanding the institutional-residual division, Richard Titmuss (1974) formulated a threefold scheme that included the industrial achievement-performance model, under which welfare transfers are an adjunct, or...

  11. References
    (pp. 173-192)
  12. Index
    (pp. 193-199)