The 1996 welfare reform bill marked the beginning of a new era in public assistance. Although the new law has reduced welfare rolls, falling caseloads do not necessarily mean a better standard of living for families. In For Better and For Worse, editors Greg J. Duncan and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and a roster of distinguished experts examine the evidence and evaluate whether welfare reform has met one of its chief goals-improving the well-being of the nation's poor children. For Better and For Worse opens with a lively political history of the welfare reform legislation, which demonstrates how conservative politicians capitalize on public concern over such social problems as single parenthood to win support for the radical reforms. Part I reviews how individual states redesigned, implemented, and are managing their welfare systems. These chapters show that most states appear to view maternal employment, rather that income enhancement and marriage, as key to improving child well-being. Part II focuses on national and multistate evaluations of the changes in welfare to examine how families and children are actually faring under the new system. These chapters suggest that work-focused reforms have not hurt children, and that reforms that provide financial support for working families can actually enhance children's development. Part III presents a variety of perspectives on policy options for the future. Remarkable here is the common ground for both liberals and conservatives on the need to support work and at the same time strengthen safety-net programs such as Food Stamps. Although welfare reform-along with the Earned Income Tax Credit and the booming economy of the nineties-has helped bring mothers into the labor force and some children out of poverty, the nation still faces daunting challenges in helping single parents become permanent members of the workforce. For Better and For Worse gathers the most recent data on the effects of welfare reform in one timely volume focused on improving the life chances of poor children.
If the distractions and distortions around you, the jarring colors and sounds, could shake up the healing chemistry of your mind, might your surroundings also have the power to heal you? This is the question Esther Sternberg explores in Healing Spaces, a look at the marvelously rich nexus of mind and body, perception and place. The book shows how a Disney theme park or a Frank Gehry concert hall, a labyrinth or a garden can trigger or reduce stress, induce anxiety or instill peace.
Studies have shown that married couples have better mental and physical health than unmarried people. Leading scholars and policy makers propose that marriage can provide similar benefits to people in both same-sex and different-sex relationships. Though research on the health and well-being of same-sex couples is a new and growing field, Marriage and Health: The Well-Being of Same-Sex Couples represents the forefront of marriage and health research and the far-reaching policy implications for the health of same-sex couples. This collection of essays presents new perspectives that address current opportunities and challenges faced by people in same-sex unions in multiple domains of well-being, including physical and mental health, social support, socialized behaviors, and stigmas. The book offers a broad view of same-sex couples’ experiences by examining not only marriage and civil unions, but also dating and cohabiting relationships as well as same-sex sexual experiences outside of relationships.
Measuring Functioning and Well-Being is a comprehensive account a broad range of self-reported functioning and well-being measures developed for the Medical Outcomes Study, a large-sale study of how patients fare with health care in the United States. This book provides a set of ready-to-use generic measures that are applicable to all adults, including those well and chronically ill, as well as a methodological guide to collecting health data and constructing health measures. As demand increases for more practical methods to monitor the outcomes of health care, this volume offers a timely and valuable contribution to the field. The contributors address conceptual and methodological issues involved in measuring such important health status concepts as: physical, social, and role functioning; psychological distress and well-being; general health perceptions; energy and fatigue; sleep; and pain. The authors present psychometric results and explain how to administer, score, and interpret the measures. Comprising the work of a number of highly respected scholars in the field of health assessment, Measuring Functioning and Well-Being will be of great interest and value to the growing number of researchers, policymakers, and clinicians concerned with the management and evaluation of health care.
In this age of instant information and new technologies, marathoner and fitness instructor Duncan Larkin recommends that runners get rid of their iPods, pace calculators, and heart monitors while exercising. Rather than helping a runner to improve, the author contends that these devices can be a detriment to both performance and the benefits of a training program. Written in direct, clear language, Run Simple: A Minimalist Approach to Fitness and Well-Being is a practical and inspirational pocket guide for runners of all abilities. The author’s goal is to share with his fellow runners the principles he has discovered that prevent burn out and promote the maximum physical and mental benefits of running. Beginning with a discussion about the role of electronic devices and other equipment that have become commonplace among the millions of persons who run every day, the author explains how to return to a simpler way of exercising and training, including running plans that demonstrate the benefits of watch-free running. He also recommends replacing a gym membership with alternative exercises that can be done at home as well as taking better control of individual nutrition. In addition, the author shows ways to economize expenses associated with running, how to dress properly for different weather conditions, and mental exercises for motivation. By following the author’s advice, runners will improve their running experience and maintain a healthy exercise regimen.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia witnessed a dramatic increase in psychotherapeutic options, which promoted social connection while advancing new forms of capitalist subjectivity amid often-wrenching social and economic transformations. In Shock Therapy Tomas Matza provides an ethnography of post-Soviet Saint Petersburg, following psychotherapists, psychologists, and their clients as they navigate the challenges of post-Soviet life. Juxtaposing personal growth and success seminars for elites with crisis counseling and remedial interventions for those on public assistance, Matza shows how profound inequalities are emerging in contemporary Russia in increasingly intimate ways as matters of selfhood. Extending anthropologies of neoliberalism and care in new directions, Matza offers a profound meditation on the interplay between ethics, therapy, and biopolitics, as well as a sensitive portrait of everyday caring practices in the face of the confounding promise of postsocialist democracy.
The nature of well-being is one of the most enduring and elusive subjects of human inquiry. Well-Being draws upon the latest scientific research to transform our understanding of this ancient question. With contributions from leading authorities in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience, this volume presents the definitive account of current scientific efforts to understand human pleasure and pain, contentment and despair. The distinguished contributors to this volume combine a rigorous analysis of human sensations, emotions, and moods with a broad assessment of the many factors, from heredity to nationality, that bear on our well-being. Using the tools of experimental science, the contributors confront the puzzles of human likes and dislikes. Why do we grow accustomed and desensitized to changes in our lives, both good and bad? Does our happiness reflect the circumstances of our lives or is it determined by our temperament and personality? Why do humans acquire tastes for sensations that are initially painful or unpleasant? By examining the roots of our everyday likes and dislikes, the book also sheds light on some of the more extreme examples of attraction and aversion, such as addiction and depression. Among its wide ranging inquiries, Well-Being examines systematic differences in moods and behaviors between genders, explaining why women suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than men, but are also more inclined to express positive emotions. The book also makes international comparisons, finding that some countries' populations report higher levels of happiness than others. The contributors deploy an array of methods, from the surveys and questionnaires of social science to psychological and physiological experiments, to develop a comprehensive new approach to the study of well-being. They show how the sensory pleasures of the body can tells us something about the higher pleasures of the mind and even how the effectiveness of our immune system can depend upon the health of our social relationships.
As human beings, we have an innate disposition to care about our well-being. We all care about staying alive, as well as about avoiding disease, physical pain, bodily harm, disability and assaults on our dignity. Adequate nourishment, water, shelter, security, satisfying work, autonomy, relationships with others and self-esteem are essential to human life and functioning. This illuminating study compares well-being across civic status, economic standing and gender during Amsterdam’s Golden Age. Utilising a multidisciplinary perspective, the author identifies the mechanisms linking people’s positions in these three systems of inequality to the wellness of their being, showing how the socioeconomic and gender hierarchies affectedtheir well-being across the lifespan.
The past two decades have witnessed rapid social, economic, and demographic change in East and South-East Asia. The older populations in these regions have been increasing faster than in the West, and the proportions of people over sixty will more than double over the next thirty years. Increased urbanization and educational levels and a strong shift to professional, technical, manufacturing, and service occupations are changing the social and economic landscape, leading to concern for the well-being of the elderly, who traditionally have relied on the family for support. Governments are attempting to preserve these traditions while taking into account widespread family change and new expectations for pension, health insurance, and other public programs.
The contributors to this volume use survey and other data collected over ten years to examine the well-being of the current older population in four Asian countries: The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Each major analytic chapter looks at a key dimension of well-being--economic, physical and mental health, work and leisure--and how these are affected by the familial and social support arrangements, as well as age, gender, education, and urban-rural residence. Where possible, changes over time are traced.
Explicit attention is given to the policies and programs in place and under development in each country and to the cultural accommodations underway. The contributors also look ahead to the implications of the large numbers of elderly with very different characteristics who will predominate in the coming years and to the policy implications of this coming transformation. The book will be important for scholars and policymakers whose work involves population in Asia, including demographers, sociologists, and economists.
Albert I. Hermalin is Research Scientist at Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, and Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan.
What is good, how do we know, and how important is it? Kraut reorients these questions around the notion of what causes human beings to flourish. Extending his argument to include plants and animals, Kraut applies a general principle to the entire living world: what is good for complex organisms consists in the exercise of their natural powers.