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Making Social Welfare Policy in America

Three Case Studies since 1950

Edward D. Berkowitz

Making Social Welfare Policy in America

Edward D. Berkowitz

312 pages | 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226692234 Published April 2020
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226692067 Published April 2020
E-book $10.00 to $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226692371 Published April 2020
American social welfare policy has produced a health system with skyrocketing costs, a disability insurance program that consigns many otherwise productive people to lives of inactivity, and a welfare program that attracts wide criticism. Making Social Welfare Policy in America explains how this happened by examining the historical development of three key programs—Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. Edward D. Berkowitz traces the developments that led to each program’s creation. Policy makers often find it difficult to dislodge a program’s administrative structure, even as political, economic, and cultural circumstances change. Faced with this situation, they therefore solve contemporary problems with outdated programs and must improvise politically acceptable solutions. The results vary according to the political popularity of the program and the changes in the conventional wisdom. Some programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, remain in place over time. Policy makers have added new parts to Medicare to reflect modern developments. Congress has abolished Aid to Families of Dependent Children and replaced with a new program intended to encourage work among adult welfare recipients raising young children. 

Written in an accessible style and using a minimum of academic jargon, this book illuminates how three of our most important social welfare programs have come into existence and how they have fared over time. 


1. Congress Passes a Law, the Labor Movement Unites, and Walter George Retires
2. What Happened to the Disability Program and How Policy Makers Tried to Respond
3. Wilbur Mills, Wilbur Cohen, and Nelson Cruikshank Curate Medicare
4. The Consequences of Medicare from Accommodation to Regulation
5. The Continuing Consequences of Medicare: Choice and Prescription Drugs
6. The Welfare Reform Debate from JFK to Reagan
7. Clinton, Gingrich, and Welfare Reform in 1996

Review Quotes
Gareth Davies, Oxford University
“Berkowitz offers a lively and useful explanation for the intractable social policy dilemmas that the United States faces today and helps us to understand how a society and polity with such a persistently anti-statist culture came to possess such a substantial—yet distinctly uneven—welfare state. We need this addition to the corpus, and it is uniquely the product of its author’s career-long engagement with and immersion in the politics of American social policy.”
Eric M. Patashnik, Brown University
Making Social Welfare Policy in America is a masterful account of the history of US social policy making since the 1950s. Berkowitz possesses an unparalleled knowledge of the details of the evolution of key programs, and the book will undoubtedly take its place as an essential guide to the development of the US welfare state.”
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