Shaping Welfare Policy: The Role of the South

Lee J. Alston and Joseph P. Ferrie

in Government & The American Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226251271
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226251295 | DOI:
Shaping Welfare Policy: The Role of the South

Show Summary Details


The U.S. welfare system developed later and was always more decentralized than its European counterparts. The federal political system in the United States, which grants much more policy discretion to states, explains some of this difference. Until the mechanization of cotton cultivation in the South, large-scale agricultural interests in that region had the economic incentive and the political ability to prevent the expansion of the welfare state in ways that would interfere with prevailing race or labor relations. This chapter describes the development of federal welfare policy and shows how various interest groups, particularly changing economic interests in the South, have influenced the forms of public assistance seen in modern programs. It first discusses the contractual mix in Southern agriculture and the rationale for paternalism and then looks at the politics of paternalism from Reconstruction to the New Deal. It also examines New Deal welfare policies and the role of the South, the threat of labor shortages during World War II, and welfare expansion in the 1960s.

Keywords: welfare policy; United States; South; agriculture; paternalism; politics; Reconstruction; New Deal; labor shortages; World War II

Chapter.  6854 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.