Social Welfare 552                                                      Gunnar Almgren                       

Seminar in Contemporary Social Welfare Policy       SSW 238E, hours by appointment

Fall, 2008                                                                      (206) 685-4077

Tuesdays 9:30-12:20, SSW 125                             


Seminar Description

This is the first of two doctoral seminars on social policy required of all first year students in the Social Welfare doctoral program. This course provides a critical review of contemporary American income maintenance and related social welfare policies, and the economic, political, and social factors that affect their development, implementation, effectiveness, unintended consequences, and latent functions.


Core General Topics:

The Structure and Functions of the Welfare State(s) in Comparative Perspective

Conceptualizations of Citizenship, The Nature of the Social Contract, and Welfare Rights

The Major Entitlements and Regulatory Functions of the American Welfare State

Immigration, Economic Assimilation, and the Social Welfare Policy

Embedded Dimensions of Stratification and Social Welfare Policy: Race, Class and Gender

Age Effects on Income Security: Children and Social Welfare Policy

Age Effects on Income Security: Workers and Labor Force Policy

Age Effects on Income Security: The Aged and Social Welfare Policy

The Intergenerational Transmission of Relative Advantage and Social Welfare Policy

The Distribution of Health and Health Care and Social Welfare Policy

Indigenous Peoples and Social Welfare Policy

The Demography of the Family and Social Welfare Policy

Disability over the Life Course and Social Welfare Policy

Seminar Format

For the most part, seminar time will be equally divided between lecture/discussion pertaining to specific policies and programs and related discussion, and more informal discussion based on core readings.




Essential background reading, to be completed over the course of the quarter:


Theda Skocpol. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States. Harvard Univ. Press: 1992


Piven and Cloward. Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare. Vintage Books Edition: 1993


Evelyn Nakano Glenn. Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor.  Harvard University Press: 2004.


Michael Katz. The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State. Holt: 2001.

(Note, there is a new edition of the text scheduled for release August 15, 2008 –but still not released as of 9/18/08)


Note: All four books extensively utilized in this course can be obtained in very reasonably priced softcover editions.



Collateral weekly readings:


Weekly readings will be selection of articles, book chapters and reports available on e-reserves*. Other than the background reading recommended to be completed over the course of the quarter, book chapters and other source readings will average about 100 pages per week.


*e-reserves for the seminar can be accessed via your MYUW link, and then clicking on the course listing.




There are two components of evaluation in this course. The first is the student’s contribution to a seminar discourse that is lively, inclusive, grounded in the course readings and related literature, and is analytically sophisticated. Evaluation of each student’s contribution will be based on:


1)      Presentation a synopsis and critique of readings pertaining to a specific aspect of contemporary social welfare policy (e.g. the intersect between reproductive behavior and means tested income subsidy).


2)       Engagement in seminar discussions in the participant role.


This component comprises 40 percent of the course grade.


The second component of evaluation for this course, comprising 60 percent of the course grade, is a major policy paper that develops and enhances each student’s foundation in the political philosophy of social welfare policy, as well as the capacity to provide an informed and intellectually sophisticated critique of contemporary social welfare policy as it has evolved in the U.S. This paper is written in two segments, the first is due November 7th and the final full version of the paper is due December 12th.  


Specific instructions on each of the written assignments will be handed out during the second week of class.


Students with Disabilities


If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924/V, 206-543-8925/TTY. If you have a letter from the office of Disability Resources for Students indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the

accommodations you might need for this class.

Schedule of Seminar Topics and Readings


There are 10 weeks of seminar sessions, including a session during finals week in place of a final examination. 


September 30

Week 1

The Structure and Functions of the Welfare State in Comparative Perspective- European Convergence and American Exceptionalism

Policy Focus:

The Federalist Structure of Social Welfare


James Madison (1788) Federalist Papers No. 45


Fraser and Gordan. 1992. Contract versus Charity, Participation and Provision:

A Reconsideration of "Social Citizenship”.  CSST Working Papers No. 76. University of Michigan, Anne Arbor.



October 7

Week 2

Conceptualizations of Citizenship, The Nature of the Social Contract, and Welfare Rights

Policy Focus:

The Evolvement of Federal Entitlements


William Talbot. Autonomy Rights. In Which Rights Should Be Universal? 2005 Oxford Univ. Press, NY. 


Rex Martin. Justice and Welfare, In Rawls and Rights.  1985 University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, KA.


T. H. Marshall. The Right to Welfare and Afterthought. In The Right to Welfare and Other Essays. 1981 Free Press. N.Y. [For further optional reading, the full volume placed on SSW Reserve under HN16 M 293 1981]


Lawrence Mead. 1997. Citizenship and Social Policy: T.H. Marshall and Poverty, Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 14, no. 2.


*Gunnar Almgren. A Primer on Theories of Social Justice and Defining the Problem of Health Care. In Health Care Politics, Policy and Services. 2007 Springer 2007.


*Optional, but highly recommended for those who need a refresher on alternative theories of social justice and John Rawls.













October 14

Week 3

Age Effects on Income Security: Workers, Labor Markets, and Labor Force Policy

Policy Focus:





Alice Kessler-Harris. 2003. In Pursuit of Economic Citizenship. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Volume 10, Number 2, pp. 157-175


Katherine Eddy. 2006. Welfare Rights and Conflicts of Rights. Res Publica 12:337–356


Kitty Calavita. 2005. Law, Citizenship, and the Construction of (Some) Immigrant ‘‘Others’’. Law and Social Inquiry, Volume 30, pages 401–420.


Smeeding and Phillips. Cross-National Differences in Employment and Economic Sufficiency. Annals of the American Academy of Political Science. 2002 580: 103-133.



October 21

Week 4

Age Effects on Income Security: Children and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:




Jennifer L Romich. Difficult Calculations: Low-Income Workers and Marginal Tax Rates Social Service Review. Mar 2006. Vol. 80, Iss. 1; p. 27-68


Genetian, Lopoo and London. 2008. Maternal Work Hours and Adolescents’ School Outcomes Among Low-income Families in Four Urban Counties. Demography 45 (1): 31-53.


Heuveline and Weinshenker. 2008. The International Child Poverty Gap: Does Demography Matter? Demography 45 (1): 173-191.


Wood, Moore and Rangarajan. 2008. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Uneven Economic Progress of TANF Recipients. Social Service Review 82 (1): 3-28.





















October 28

Week 5

The Demography of the Family and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:

Fertility Control, Marriage and Support Enforcement



Moore, K.A., S.M. Jekielek, and C. Emig. 2002. “Marriage from a Child's Perspective:

How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It?” Child

Trends Brief No. 2002-32


Parke, M. 2003. “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says

About the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being.” CLASP Policy Brief 3

(May). Washington, DC. Center for Law and Social Policy.


McLanahan, S. 2004. “Diverging Destinies: How Children Are Faring Under the Second

Demographic Transition.” Demography 41(4) (November)”607-627.


Adam Thomas and Isabel Sawhill. 2002. “For Richer or for Poorer: Marriage as an Antipoverty Strategy.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 21: 587-599.


Fragile Families. 2003. “Barriers to Marriage among Fragile Families.” Fragile Families

Research Briefs 16 (May).


Meyer, D.R., M. Cancian, and S. Cook. 2005. “Multiple Partners Fertility: Incidence and

Implications for Child Support Policy.” Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper No. 1300-1305 (May).


Gottschalk, McLanahan, and Sandefur.1994. The Dynamics and Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty and Welfare." In Confronting Poverty (edited by Danziger, Sandefur, andWeinberg). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.




November 4

Week 6

Age Effects on Income Security: The Aged and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:

Social Security-OAA/Medicare/ERISA Pension Provisions



Burman et al. Policy Challenges Posed by the Aging of America. The Urban Institute May 1998: 1-25.


Vladeck (1999). The Political Economy of Medicare. Health Affairs 18 (1): 22-36.


Feldstein. Structural Reform of Social Security. Journal of Economic Perspectives 19 (2) Spring 2005: 33-55.



November 18

Week 7

The Distribution of Health and Health Care and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:

Medicaid/SCHIP/ERISA Health Care Benefits Provisions/ Prospects for Health Care Reform



Link and Phelan. Social conditions as fundamental causes of disease. Journal of Health and Social Behavior; 1995: 80-94.


Banks, Marmot, Oldfield, and Smith. Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England. JAMA, May 3, 2006, 295, (17): 2037-2045.


Stuber and Kronebusch. Stigma and Other Determinants of Participation in TANF and Medicaid. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 23, No. 3, 509–530 (2004)


Quadagno. Why the United States Has No National Health Insurance: Stakeholder Mobilization Against the Welfare State, 1945–1996. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 2004, Vol 45 (Extra Issue): 25–44


Nichols et al. Are Market Forces Strong Enough To Deliver Efficient Health Care Systems? Confidence Is Waning. Health Affairs, 2004 23 (2): 8-21.


Almgren.  (2006). Competing Agendas for Health Care Reform: A Social Justice Critique. Health Care Politics, Policy, and Services. NY: Springer


Berggren. Unexpected Necessities — Inside Charity Hospital. New England Journal of Medicine 2005, 353 (15):1550-1553.


November 25

Week 8

Disability over the Life Course and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:



DeLeire, Thomas. 2000. "The Wage and Employment Effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act." Journal of Human Resources 35(4):693-715.


Block, Balcazar and Keys. Race, poverty and disability: three strikes and you're out! Or are you? Social Policy 33 (1) (Fall 2002): 34-39.


Martin and Davies. Changes in the demographic and economic characteristics of SSI and DI beneficiaries between 1984 and 1999. Social Security Bulletin 65 (2) (Summer 2003): 1-13.


Vladeck. Where The Action Really Is: Medicaid And The Disabled. Health Affairs, 22 (1) (2003): 90-100.







December 2

Week 9

Immigration, Economic Assimilation, and the Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:

INA/IRCA and Welfare Reform



Kymlicka and Banting. Immigration, multiculturalism, and the welfare state. Ethics & International Affairs 20 (3) (Dec 2006): 281-305.

Phillips, Massey and Parrado.The new era of Mexican migration to the United States.(Rethinking History and the Nation-State: Mexico and the United States as a Case Study). Journal of American History 86 (2) (Sept 1999): 518-533.


Van Hook, J.  2003 "Welfare Reform: Chilling Effects on Non-Citizens: Changes in Non-Citizen Welfare Recipiency or Shifts in Citizenship Status?" Social Science Quarterly, 84(3):613-631.


Portes, Ferna´ndez-Kelly and Haller. The Adaptation of the Immigrant Second Generation in America: Theoretical Overview and Recent Evidence. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (forthcoming).  


December 9

Week 10

Indigenous Peoples and Social Welfare Policy

Policy Focus:

Indian Self-Determination Act/Indian Child Welfare Act/Indian Health Care Improvement Act



Kersey. Buffalo tiger, Bobo Dean, and the "Young Turks": A Miccosukee prelude to the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act.  American Indian Culture and Research Journal 29 (1) (Winter 2005): p1-19.


Cross. Indian Family Exception Doctrine: Still Losing Children Despite the Indian Child Welfare Act. Child Welfare; Jul/Aug 2006; 85 (4): 671-690.


Limb, Chance and Brown. An empirical examination of the Indian Child Welfare Act and its impact on cultural and familial preservation for American Indian children. Child Abuse and Neglect 28 (2) (Dec 2004): 1279-1290.


Kunitz. The History and Politics of US Health Care Policy for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. American Journal of Public Health. Oct 1996, 86 (10): 1464-1473