Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
How Policies Make Citizens

How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State

ANDREA LOUISE CAMPBELL
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7rtmp
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    How Policies Make Citizens
    Book Description:

    Some groups participate in politics more than others. Why? And does it matter for policy outcomes? In this richly detailed and fluidly written book, Andrea Campbell argues that democratic participation and public policy powerfully reinforce each other. Through a case study of senior citizens in the United States and their political activity around Social Security, she shows how highly participatory groups get their policy preferences fulfilled, and how public policy itself helps create political inequality.

    Using a wealth of unique survey and historical data, Campbell shows how the development of Social Security helped transform seniors from the most beleaguered to the most politically active age group. Thus empowered, seniors actively defend their programs from proposed threats, shaping policy outcomes. The participatory effects are strongest for low-income seniors, who are most dependent on Social Security. The program thus reduces political inequality within the senior population--a laudable effect--while increasing inequality between seniors and younger citizens.

    A brief look across policies shows that program effects are not always positive. Welfare recipients are even less participatory than their modest socioeconomic backgrounds would imply, because of the demeaning and disenfranchising process of proving eligibility. Campbell concludes that program design profoundly shapes the nature of democratic citizenship. And proposed policies--such as Social Security privatization--must be evaluated for both their economic and political effects, because the very quality of democratic government is influenced by the kinds of policies it chooses.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4131-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Chapter One INTRODUCTION: THE RECIPROCAL PARTICIPATION-POLICY RELATIONSHIP
    (pp. 1-13)

    Some groups participate more than others—the affluent more than the poor; the educated more than the uneducated; whites more than blacks and Latinos; the elderly more than the young. Does it matter? Do highparticipation groups get more of what they want from the government? Do participatory inputs shape policy outputs? Critics allege that the American system of government inadequately represents the interests of the underprivileged, to their detriment.¹ Indeed, one motivation driving researchers to measure participatory differences across groups is an assumption that they lead to unequal policy outcomes. Do they?

    And why are some groups more politically active...

  7. Chapter Two OVERVIEW: RISING SENIOR PARTICIPATION AND THE GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN WELFARE STATE
    (pp. 14-37)

    In many observers’ eyes, the United States is facing a crisis of democracy. Participation in a variety of political activities has declined—fewer people attend political meetings, work for political parties, attend political rallies, or sign petitions.¹ There is even more hand wringing among pundits and scholars over the decline of voter turnout—now barely half of eligible Americans vote in presidential elections, only a third in off-year elections.² Observers fret over the “disappearance” of the American voter, and ask “What if we held an election and no one showed up?”³

    But one group does show up, and in force:...

  8. Chapter Three A MODEL OF SENIOR CITIZEN POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
    (pp. 38-64)

    At age 75, Martha Malone is extremely active in politics. She has chaired the environmental committee in her Pennsylvania town, served on the local planning board, has long been a poll worker, and of course votes in every election—“a privilege of citizens,” she says. Her high rate of activity in civic affairs is to be expected: she is college educated—only 9 percent of women her age are¹—and affluent. As for current debates, she fears Social Security and Medicare “could be taken away.” That would be devastating for her and especially for other, less affluent seniors, because “we...

  9. Chapter Four SENIOR CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AND POLICY OVER TIME
    (pp. 65-92)

    The names by which groups are known have a way of changing, with increased tolerance, with political fashion, and with attempts to replace negative stereotypes with positive images. The handicapped become the disabled become the differently abled. Colored people become Negroes become blacks become African Americans. The old become the aged become the elderly become senior citizens. In many ways, this last term is the most accurate, for it captures the most profound aspect of seniors’ changing social and political status. They are indeed seniorcitizens, fully incorporated into social and political citizenship. Through their age-related programs they have realized...

  10. Chapter Five POLICY THREAT AND SENIORS’ DISTINCTIVE POLITICAL VOICE
    (pp. 93-114)

    During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton promised to stimulate the economy by increasing both short-term spending and long-term investment. But once he took office, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned that deficit reduction must take priority. Record budget deficits kept long-terminterest rates high, squelching consumer spending and economic growth, he argued. Tackling the deficit now would enhance growth later, allowing Clinton to implement his spending plan. One deficit-fighting idea, promoted by budget director Leon Panetta, was to temporarily freeze the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Benefits were scheduled to increase $19 per month on average, a modest amount per...

  11. Chapter Six CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSIVENESS
    (pp. 115-124)

    The 1980s, a decade filled with threats to senior programs, came to an end with virtually no fundamental policy changes affecting current recipients. There were some changes in Social Security over this period, but they fell either onto taxpayers (increases in the payroll tax rate and wage base subject to taxation) or onto recipients in the distant, politically safe, future (the 1983 amendments, for example, raised the retirement age from 65 to 67, effective forty-four years later). The 1983 amendments required that upper-income seniors report half of their Social Security benefits as taxable income, but this “cut” in benefits did...

  12. Chapter Seven THE RECIPROCAL PARTICIPATION-POLICY RELATIONSHIP ACROSS PROGRAMS
    (pp. 125-137)

    Social Security is not unique; it is but one example of the participationpolicy cycle. And while data limitations do not allow analysis of other programs exactly comparable to the one in the preceding pages, this chapter begins to look across programs to see under what conditions policyfeedback mechanisms exist and where participation influences policy outcomes. I look briefly at six other policy areas, including both means-tested and non-means-tested programs, examining the participation of recipients in these programareas, their influence on policymaking, and policy outcomes.

    I focus on two programs in particular: veterans’ benefits, as an example of another non-means-tested program,...

  13. Chapter Eight PARTICIPATION, POLICYMAKING, AND THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF PROGRAM DESIGN
    (pp. 138-146)

    The enactment and development of Social Security and Medicare have fundamentally altered the American democratic landscape. The programs helped transform seniors from the poorest, most beleaguered age group to the most comfortable. In supplying seniors with income, health, and free time, the programs have materially enhanced their participatory capacity. The programs’ cognitive effects have heightened senior constituents’ interest in and vigilance over the political process, a watchfulness of which elected officials are keenly aware. Interest groups arose to fill service niches created by the programs, and as a by-product, the groups serve as informational networks for seniors, alerting them of...

  14. Appendix A SUPPLEMENTARY TABLES
    (pp. 147-160)
  15. Appendix B TWO-STAGE SOCIAL SECURITY PARTICIPATION MODEL
    (pp. 161-164)
  16. Appendix C SENIOR/NONSENIOR MOBILIZATION RATIOS BY PARTY, 1956–96
    (pp. 165-165)
  17. Appendix D MULTIPLE INTERRUPTED TIMESERIES ANALYSIS
    (pp. 166-168)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 169-204)
  19. REFERENCES
    (pp. 205-220)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 221-230)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-232)