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World povertyNew policies to defeat an old enemy$
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Peter Townsend and David Gordon

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9781861343956

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861343956.001.0001

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Social policy in the US: workfare and the American low-wage labour market

Social policy in the US: workfare and the American low-wage labour market

Chapter:
(p.82) (p.83) FOUR Social policy in the US: workfare and the American low-wage labour market
Source:
World poverty
Author(s):

S.M. Miller

Jeanette E. Markle

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781861343956.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the change in US social policy from welfare to workfare, and the importance of making improvements in the low-wage labour market to making this a successful transition. The political and social environment in which this transition is occurring includes two recent trends in US public policy: privatisation, and a general reduction in the role of the government. A major difficulty in constructing effective social policy is the inadequate US measure of poverty. The chapter argues that if the situation of workfare participants and other low-income persons is to be improved, then the low-wage labour market must be better coordinated with strong social programmes. The private sector alone cannot provide a decent standard of living in its current form. Lessons can be drawn from the experience of the US by other nations grappling with similar issues.

Keywords:   US social policy, labour market, privatisation, social programmes

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