The Great Recession and US social policy: from expansion to austerity

Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan

in Social Policy Review 24

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9781447304470
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307662 | DOI:
The Great Recession and US social policy: from expansion to austerity

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In many OECD countries, the Great Recession had major social policy consequences. This chapter discusses the post-2007 economic crisis in the United States before analysing some of the most prominent policy changes enacted in its aftermath. The paper stresses the return of fiscal austerity related to the increase in the size of federal and state deficits as well as the ideological domination of the right, which began pushing for spending cuts even before the end of the Great Recession. The conclusion of the paper summarizes the key changes enacted before speculating about the future of the U.S. welfare state in a context of fiscal austerity. As argued, the rise in federal deficits and the conservative ideological ascendancy converge to legitimize potential benefit cuts while making it harder for the federal and state governments to launch new measures aimed at adapting social programs to more effectively fight poverty and economic insecurity.

Keywords: United States; Economic crisis; Social policy; Welfare state; Austerity

Chapter.  7870 words. 

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