A Patchwork Safety Net: A Survey of Cliometric Studies of Income Maintenance Programs in the United States in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

68 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010

See all articles by Price V. Fishback

Price V. Fishback

University of Arizona; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Samuel Allen

Virginia Military Institute

Jonathan F. Fox

University of Arizona

Brendan Livingston

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2010

Abstract

Social welfare programs in the United States are designed to serve as safety nets for people in hard times, in contrast with the universal approach found in many other developed western nations. In a survey of Cliometric studies of social welfare programs in the U.S., we examine the variation in the safety net in the U.S. across states in the 20th century, the determinants of the variation, and its impact on socioeconomic outcomes. The U.S. has always displayed substantial variation in the extent of the safety net because the features of most public social welfare programs are and were determined by local and state governments, even after the federal government became involved. Differences across states persist strongly for typically a decade, although the persistence weakens with time, and there are some periods when federal intervention led to a re-ordering. The rankings of state benefits differs from program to program, and economic and political factors have different weights in determining benefit levels in panel data estimation of their effects. Variation in benefits across programs during the early 1900s had significant impact on labor markets, economic activity, family formation, death rates, and crime.

Suggested Citation

Fishback, Price V. and Allen, Samuel and Fox, Jonathan F. and Livingston, Brendan, A Patchwork Safety Net: A Survey of Cliometric Studies of Income Maintenance Programs in the United States in the First Half of the Twentieth Century (January 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15696. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1545153

Price V. Fishback (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4421 (Phone)
520-621-8450 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Samuel Allen

Virginia Military Institute ( email )

Department of Economics and Business
Scott Shipp Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States

HOME PAGE: http://academics2.vmi.edu/ECBU/AllenSK/

Jonathan F. Fox

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Brendan Livingston

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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