The Welfare We Want

Book Cover: The Welfare We WantEdited by Robert Walker and Michael Wiseman.
Policy Press
ISBN 1861344074

This refreshing volume starts from the startling premise that welfare policy and practice in the US would benefit from greater familiarity with what is happening in the UK.

They argue that the US welfare regime is not so historically determined by a triumphant capitalism that it cannot learn from old Europe.

Taking off from professor Richard Rose’s “transferable lessons”, the various contributors provide an intelligent explanation of the key elements of welfare in both countries. There are chapters on the reform that culminated in the US in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, and in the UK in the work-centred regime developed by New Labour after its election in 1997. (Both have produced results that the left would not have predicted.)

Further chapters examine benefits for lone parents in both countries. Perhaps the most potent contributions explain how British efforts to reduce child poverty and promote social inclusion would humanise the US states’ work-centred welfare programmes.

This is a book in which genuine inquiry takes precedence over policy polemics.

John Pierson is senior lecturer, Institute of Applied Social Studies, Staffordshire University.

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