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Social Policy in Challenging TimesEconomic Crisis and Welfare Systems$
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Kevin Farnsworth and Zoe Irving

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428288

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428288.001.0001

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Social policy and the recent economic crisis in Canada and the United States

Social policy and the recent economic crisis in Canada and the United States

(p.231) Thirteen Social policy and the recent economic crisis in Canada and the United States
Social Policy in Challenging Times
Daniel Bél, Alex Waddan
Policy Press

This chapter explores the impact of the economic crisis that began in 2008 on U.S. and Canadian social policy debates and reforms. It assesses the impact of this major crisis on unemployment, pensions and fiscal policy in both countries. The chapter reveals that the crisis hit the United States harder than Canada and, from a political standpoint, led to a greater potential for path-departing reform in the United States than in Canada. The possibility of significant change was reinforced in the United States by the election of Barack Obama to the presidency less than two months after the financial crisis of September 2008 hit. In contrast, Canadians re-elected a Conservative minority government. In the end, however, both the United States and Canada failed to enact bold social policy reforms in 2009. Most importantly, in both countries, the economic crisis brought a massive deterioration of the fiscal situation of the federal government, and of many states and provinces, which is likely to limit the scope for progressive policy change while having the potential to legitimise cost controls and cutbacks in social programmes.

Keywords:   US, Canada, social policy, financial crisis, banking crisis, social protection, welfare reforms

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