Social welfare policymaking
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SOCIAL WELFARE POLICYMAKING. Social Welfare Policies. Provide benefits to individuals Based on either Entitlement (regardless of need; Social Security/Medicare) or Means-Tested programs (based on need; Food Stamps or Medicaid). Means-Tested Programs.

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Social welfare policymaking


Social welfare policies

Social Welfare Policies

  • Provide benefits to individuals

  • Based on either Entitlement (regardless of need; Social Security/Medicare) or Means-Tested programs (based on need; Food Stamps or Medicaid)

Means tested programs

Means-Tested Programs

  • Controversial due to philosophical differences

  • Deserving Poor vs. Undeserving Poor

  • Social Darwinism vs. Cyclical / Structural Poverty

Income distribution describes how the national income is divided

Income Distribution: describes how the national income is divided

Social welfare policymaking

  • Relative Deprivation: perception by an individual that they are not doing well economically in comparison to others

  • Income: amount of money collected between two points in time

  • Wealth: Value of all assets owned (stocks, bonds, bank accounts, cars, houses, etc.)

    • 1/3 of wealth held by 1%,

    • 1/3 by next 9%,

    • remaining 1/3 by the other 90%

Poverty line

Poverty Line

  • Income threshold below which people are considered poor

  • 1 person = 11,170

  • 4 persons = 23,050

  • 43.6 million, about 14.3%, officially poor in 2009

  • ‘Feminization of Poverty’: increasing concentration of poverty among women

Gov t s affect on income

Gov’t.’s Affect on Income

  • Government can affect income via two ways:

    • Taxation & Expenditures



  • Progressive Tax: bigger % from rich

  • Proportional Tax: same % from all

  • Regressive Tax: bigger % from poor

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): refundable credit for working people who earn low incomes



  • Transfer Payments: benefits directly to individuals

    • cash, food stamps, low % loans

Evolution of welfare state

Evolution of “Welfare State”

  • 1789-1935: parents care for children who take care of parents as they age

  • 1935: Social Security Act created as part of FDR’s New Deal

    • $ for retired, disabled

    • Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)

  • 1964: LBJ’s “War on Poverty”

    • Medicare/Medicaid

Social welfare policymaking

  • 1980’s: De-funding of social welfare programs under Reagan

  • 1996: Welfare Reform Act, WJ Clinton

    • Must find work within 2 years

    • Total of 5 years welfare

    • AFDC changes to TANF (“Temporary Assistance for Needy Families”)

Political conflict

Political Conflict

  • Social Darwinism/dependency (“Deserving Poor”) vs. Cyclical/Structural Poverty (“Undeserving Poor”)

Social welfare policymaking

  • Americans tend to see welfare recipients as overwhelmingly African-American, lazy, and undeserving

  • Feelings on race affect feelings on welfare

  • Media portrays recipients as minority when majority are White

Source census bureau table h 3 2010

Source: Census Bureau - Table H-3, 2010

Social welfare policymaking

What percent in taxes does each pay after paying for basic necessities like food and shelter, rather than total income?

Social welfare policymaking

If you subtract this $2,000 a month or $24,000 per year from the various quintiles' incomes, the following pre-tax disposable incomes result:

And here are the actual average taxes paid by quintile

And here are the actual average taxes paid by quintile:

Social welfare policymaking

And so, here are the tax percentages that each quintile actually pays as a percent of their true disposable incomes, assuming everyone needs at least $2,000 a month just to get by:

Social security


  • Trust Fund: $ in to pay current recipients

  • 12.4% tax up to $102,000

  • 6.2% paid by employee

  • 6.2% paid by employer



  • Life expectancy:

    1935 = < 65; 2009 = >78

  • Baby Boom =

    fewer workers-to-recipients ratio

  • Fund has been ‘raided’ over the years to pay for other programs

Solution s


  • Increase Payroll Taxes

  • Decrease benefits for recipients

  • Increase age at which benefits are recived

  • Means-Testing recipients

Efficacy of groups re social welfare policymaking

Efficacy of Groups re: Social Welfare Policymaking

  • Elderly: well-organized with a high amount of resources = effective

  • Poor: vote less, less money, fewer organizations = less effective

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