Chapter

The Aim Is Not Spending Per Se

Lane Kenworthy

in Progress for the Poor

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199591527
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731389 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199591527.003.0009
The Aim Is Not Spending Per Se

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Government social transfers account for a much larger share of GDP in Sweden and Denmark than in the United States. But the U.S. government distributes more benefits in the form of tax breaks rather than transfers than do the two Nordic countries; Denmark and Sweden tax back a larger portion of public transfers than the United States does; private social expenditures, such as those on employment-based health insurance and pensions, are greater in the United States; and America’s per capita GDP is larger. As a result, net public and private social expenditures per person are larger in the United States. Is this good news for the poor in the United States? Unfortunately, no. These adjustments change the story with respect to the aggregate quantity of resources that goes to social protection in the three countries, but they have limited bearing on poverty reduction and on the living standards of the poor.

Keywords: Keywords: social policy; net social expenditures; private social expenditures; poverty

Chapter.  1730 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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