The Rise and Fall of “Collective Thrift”

Steve Fraser

in Thrift and Thriving in America

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199769063
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199896851 | DOI:
The Rise and Fall of “Collective Thrift”

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This chapter shows why collective thrift may not be as readily forthcoming a remedy for addressing the collective action problems that stymie individual thrift. Detailing the rise of mid-20th-century experiments in collective thrift—from government-sponsored Social Security, unemployment insurance, and subsidized medical care, to corporate-sponsored pension plans—it also shows how short-lived many of these initiatives proved to be. In an era of global capital, increased foreign competition, and a renewed confidence in market solutions, political attitudes turned decidedly against collective thrift in all but a few forms by the century's end. The chapter documents how, over the past twenty years, Americans have seen the systematic dismantling of public welfare programs and the privatization of collective thrift. A central consequence of this reversal has been a dramatic shifting of the burden of risk onto the shoulders of individuals.

Keywords: collective thrift; collection action; public welfare programs; medical care

Chapter.  11733 words. 

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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