Time to rethink the social safety net

Mark R. Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare


In the coming weeks and months, many Americans will be forced to turn to the social safety net for help in getting through the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus. They are in for a rude awakening.

The United States has far and away the weakest welfare state among the wealthy industrialized countries. Beginning with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, the safety net has been under constant attack and retrenchment. Programs such as unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid have seen their eligibility tightened and benefits sharply reduced. Although designed to protect families during periods of economic downturn and distress, their ability to do so has been severely damaged over time.

This erosion is part of a much broader change that has taken place in the United States over the past 50 years.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.