NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Price V. Fishback, Samuel Allen, Jonathan Fox, Brendan Livingston

NBER Working Paper No. 15696
Issued in January 2010
NBER Program(s):   DAE

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.

download in pdf format
   (347 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (347 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15696

Published: Price Fishback & Samuel Allen & Jonathan Fox & Brendan Livingston, 2010. "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," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 895-940, December.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Fishback w15982 Social Welfare Expenditures in the United States and the Nordic Countries: 1900-2003
Fox, Fishback, and Rhode The Effects of Weather Shocks on Crop Prices in Unfettered Markets: The United States Prior to the Farm Programs, 1895-1932
Troesken w15699 The Elasticity of Demand With Respect to Product Failures; or Why the Market for Quack Medicines Flourished for More Than 150 Years
Aizenman and Pasricha w16779 Net Fiscal Stimulus During the Great Recession
Bogart and Richardson w15697 Property Rights and Parliament in Industrializing Britain
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us