Welfare policy the public safety net in american economic history

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The expansion of the safety net in the United States was one of the major changes in the economy in the twentieth century. The public safety net evolved from poverty relief programs run by local governments and private charities to a much larger system dominated by social insurance programs run by different mixtures of the federal and state governments. These included such social insurance programs as Social Security, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance, as well as the public assistance programs that are commonly described as welfare programs. This chapter surveys the work done by economic historians on how and why the US safety net expanded during the formative years of the early twentieth century and the impact of those changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of American Economic History
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780190882624
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Charity
  • Economy
  • Government
  • Poverty relief
  • Public assistance
  • Safety net
  • Social insurance
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Welfare
  • Workers’ compensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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