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Many social policies of the 1960s and 1970s, designed to overcome poverty and provide a decent standard of living for all Americans, ran into trouble in the 1980s with politicians, with social scientists, and with the American people. Here Nathan Glazer looks back at what went wrong, arguing that our social policies, although targeted effectively on some problems, ignored others that are equally important. Glazer's knowledge and judgment, distilled in this book, will be a source of advice and wisdom for citizens and policymakers alike.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674534438
ISBN-10: 0674534433
Format: Hardback
(230mm x 150mm x 21mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1988
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A pragmatic, informed, thoroughly researched analysis of American social policy since the Kennedy years as Glazer explores in detail the formation, implementation, and results of government programs in welfare, education, employment, and training. His impressive credentials - Harvard Professor of Education and Sociology, reputable critic (Ethnic Dilemmas, 1964-1982, 1983), and participant in government as an official and consultant - lend authority to his well-documented review of their effectiveness. In essence, this is a book about dilemmas. Experience has brought Glazer to a troubling view: even though our major social policies ameliorate some of the problems they address, their implementation creates a complex array of new problems - and often leads to results opposite those intended. Still newer problems arise from increasingly rapid changes in the values and structures of our culture, intensifying the cycle. Because of its tremendous growth in cost and numbers, its minimal success, and growing dissatisfactions of recipients, taxpayers, and government workers, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, according to Glazer, provides the most glaring example. Originally intended to support families during periods of economic distress, its negative effects soon became apparent: most crucially, the break-up of families and loss of incentive to work. Males deserted households so women and children could receive the full range of benefits; low-income jobs made families worse off, especially in terms of medical coverage. Tinkering with incentives to produce desired behaviors made matters worse: illegitimacy and the number of female-headed households increased. Social engineering and ad hoc fine-tuning simply did not work. Current approaches, in theory, attempt a radical turnabout. The goal to encourage traditional morality and family structure, and to reinvigorate the work ethic. The means: to combine sufficiently harsh administration with limitation of benefits so that those who can work will prefer even minimal employment to welfare. How this will work, especially during recessions, remains to be seen. Popular wisdom sums up the dilemmas in this and other programs - when government does it, it costs more and is less effective. Glazer recommends decentralization; strengthening traditional restraints and structures and private-sector involvement; and attractive fringe benefits for low-paying jobs. One is left feeling, Why not? (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Nathan Glazer

Nathan Glazer is Professor of Education and Sociology, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

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