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Rich Democracies, Poor PeopleHow Politics Explain Poverty$
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David Brady

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385878.001.0001

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The Welfare State and Poverty

The Welfare State and Poverty

(p.70) 4 The Welfare State and Poverty
Rich Democracies, Poor People

David Brady (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that the welfare state is the principal and proximate influence on a nation's amount of poverty. The welfare state is a complex of social policies and programs that distribute economic resources disproportionately to a nation's vulnerable populations. Every nation has vulnerable populations, but welfare states differ in the extent to which they protect the vulnerable against economic insecurity. To establish the first part of institutionalized power relations theory, this chapter examines multiple measures of the welfare state and poverty, while controlling for factors that critics argue are more important to poverty. Building on past research, the chapter explains the causal mechanisms by which the welfare state influences poverty. The analyses compare various specific features of the welfare state to explore their precise effects on poverty. Then, the chapter examines the impact of welfare state regimes and the effects of the key welfare state features across regimes. Last, the chapter tests the historical stability of the relationship between the welfare state and poverty. Ultimately, the welfare state is a stable and powerful poverty‐reduction mechanism.

Keywords:   welfare state, social policy, welfare regimes, egalitarianism

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