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Do Social-Welfare Policies Reduce Poverty? A Cross-National Assessment

Lane Kenworthy
Social Forces
Vol. 77, No. 3 (Mar., 1999), pp. 1119-1139
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3005973
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3005973
Page Count: 21
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Do Social-Welfare Policies Reduce Poverty? A Cross-National Assessment
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Abstract

Most social scientists, policymakers, and citizens who support the welfare state do so in part because they believe social-welfare programs help to reduce the incidence of poverty. Yet a growing number of critics assert that such programs in fact fail to decrease poverty, because too small a share of transfers actually reaches the poor, or because such programs create a welfare/poverty trap, or because they weaken the economy. This study assesses the effects of social-welfare policy extensiveness on poverty rates across fifteen affluent industrialized nations over the period 1960-91, using both absolute and relative measures of poverty. The results strongly support the conventional view that social-welfare programs reduce poverty.

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