Beginning with the stock market crash of 1929, Blanche Coll documents the evolution of the federal and state government policymaking for welfare and Social Security, our "safety net." As Coll points out, the policies that determine who is "entitled" to aid, how standard dollar amounts are set, child support responsibilities, the equitable fiscal division between state, federal, and local governments, and the resulting impact on the poorÐÐparticularly women and children of all racesÐÐhave fluctuated throughout the history of welfare.
Coll shows how demographic patterns, the definition of a family, the relative health of the economy, and Presidents' political agendas all deeply affect the system of entitlements to Social Security and welfare, the kernal of the American welfare state.
Safety Net is the only comprehensive history of modern welfare in the United States. Clearly written and unpolemical, it is based on a wealth of primary sources, interviews with key policymakers, and the authoritative analysis of a trained historian who served as a research administrator in the federal government through Democractic and Republican administrations. Saftey Net will be indispensable reading for everyone concerned with contemporary debates about welfare and Social Security.