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The Divided Welfare State
The Divided Welfare State is the first comprehensive political analysis of America's distinctive system of public and private social benefits. Everyone knows that the American welfare state is unusual--less expensive and extensive, later to develop and slower to grow, than comparable programs abroad. Yet, U.S. social policy does not stand out solely for its limits. America ...more
Paperback, 447 pages
Published April 30th 2010 by Cambridge University Press
(first published September 9th 2002)
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Aug 04, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in policy or political systems
A deeply depressing account, from a political science perspective, of how public and private pensions and healthcare developed along parallel but very different tracks in the 20th century. The passage of Social Security in the 1930s meant that private employer-provided pension plans arose in response to it and in accommodation of it, while the failure to establish any kind of serious national healthcare system allowed for private, employer-provided health insurance to develop first, and mitigate ...more
Attempts to explain the relative success of old age pension (through the year 2000 or so) and the failure of public health in the United States. Does this with a heavy emphasis on path dependence and inertia. Private benefits fragment the public, and disproportionately help the organized, the healthy/ low risk, and the wealthy. As they become entrenched, it becomes more difficult for the government to provide health benefits, and when they do, it they necessarily do so only for the highest risk, ...more
A good graduate thesis in political science, but not a great book. There is a great deal of interesting history and background information on pensions and health care financing, which is useful to re-summarize. However, Hacker's writing is so often unclear and not always analytically sharp that it makes for tough going. There are many instances when his theory of why employers provide one type of benefits (say pensions) clashes with his theory of why they provide another type (say health care). ...more
This was a very detailed account of the public and private pension and health care systems (pre- Obamacare)in the US. It contained quite a bit more detail than I necessarily cared to read, but the overall theme of path dependency was fascinating. I certainly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in social security, retirement, and health care policy (none of which happen to be specialty - the reason it is only 3 stars).