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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Social Insurance: America's Neglected Heritage and Contested Future
  • Date: 10/15/2013
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $37.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-4522-4000-8
  • Pages: 240
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Social Insurance: America's Neglected Heritage and Contested Future
Theodore R. Marmor, Yale University
Jerry L. Mashaw, Yale University
John Pakutka

What has America done to protect its citizens from life-changing but common risks such as death of a family breadwinner, ill health, disability, involuntary unemployment, outliving retirement savings, and birth into a poor family? Each, in its own way, burdens—and possibly devastates—unlucky individuals and families both emotionally and financially. It is the rare life that is untouched by one or more of these six threats. How do our current policies affect taxation, spending, and the economy, as well as prospects for individual lives? What more might these policies do to protect Americans?

Rich in stories, data, and analysis, Social Insurance provides a strong intellectual foundation for understanding the history, economics, politics, and philosophy of America’s most important social insurance programs. This insightful work provides a unifying vision of these programs’ purposes and reminds us, amidst the confusing and often apocalyptic rhetoric, why we have the programs and policies we do, while arguing for reforms that preserve and enhance the protections in place.

Key Features

  • The author team—well-known scholars and practitioners who have been researching, writing, and consulting on social insurance throughout their careers—bring their expertise and insight to  bear on the ways America can both preserve and improve its social insurance programs.
  • In simple and crisp prose, the authors clearly explain each program, explore the relevant data, and effectively dispel the myths and misconceptions most Americans hold about social insurance programs—an antidote to today’s inflammatory political rhetoric.
  • For anyone—student, scholar, citizen—interested in the future of social insurance programs, this brief study asks and answers the fundamental questions of the purpose and promise of a country’s social welfare state.
Table of Contents

Part 1: American Social Insurance
     1. Economic Risks and Social Insurance Realities
     2. Assessment of the Six Threats to Family Income
     3. Philosophies, Policies and Public Budgets
     4. The Historical Development of American Social Insurance and its Associated Programs

Part II: The State of American Protections Against the Threats
     5. The Threat of Birth into a Poor Family
     6. The Threat of Early Death of a Family Breadwinner
     7. The Threat of Ill-Health
     8. The Threat of Involuntary Employment
     9. The Threat of Disability
     10. The Threat of Outliving One’s Savings

Part III: Thinking About the Design of Income Security Programs and Their Reform
     11. Accomplishments and Limitations
     12. Social Insurance, Markets and “Modernization”

"This may be the best one-volume introduction to the American welfare state ever written. The authors bring their unparalleled expertise to bear with a lively style and clear writing, never losing sight of the human dimension of social insurance. Both welfare state neophytes and policy experts will learn much from this volume." - R. Kent Weaver, Georgetown University

“These distinguished authors have written a remarkably informative and penetrating book on the development, current condition, and future of social policy in the United States. Written in lively prose, yet packed with facts and figures, it explains how a diverse collection of social insurance programs protect people from serious threats to their financial well-being—from poverty and unemployment, to illness and disability, to the death of a breadwinner and old age. The authors also point out where those programs go awry or fall short of the need. Most importantly, they show why some of the leading reform proposals, instead of putting the programs on a sound footing, would undermine their basic purposes. Social Insurance is the rare sort of book that is not only ideal for students but also essential reading for informed citizens and policymakers.” - Paul Quirk, University of British Columbia

“An important new book focusing on U.S. national social policy. Methodologically sound, the text is enlivened with rich anecdotal material that brings to life the specifics of food assistance, health care, taxes, welfare and poverty.” - Susan J. Tolchin, George Mason University

“Politicians and pundits wring their hands about America’s ‘unaffordable’ entitlement programs. Amidst overblown fears of ‘runaway’ government spending, we seem to have forgotten what America’s welfare state is for. Carefully researched and incisively argued, this book reminds us of the purpose and promise of America’s core social policies. Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and aid to poor families are not government handouts or a threat to free enterprise. Rather, as this book forcefully demonstrates, these programs are bedrock institutions of a fair and vibrant market society—and urgently need to be strengthened, not slashed.” - Alan Jacobs, University of British Columbia

“Much of our public policy debate focuses either on abstract questions about the role of government or detailed descriptions and analysis of particular programs. Ted Marmor, Jerry Mashaw, and John Pakutka are able to combine these two perspectives in way that makes sense of our fragmented set of social programs. The book explains how ideological and political commitments lead to the current fragmented social insurance programs we have now while analyzing how well these programs protect Americans from economic insecurity.” - James H. Cox, California State University, Stanislaus
Theodore R. Marmor, Yale University

Theodore (Ted) Marmor is professor emeritus of public policy and management and professor emeritus of political science at Yale University. Marmor is an accomplished author and co-author of eleven books, and has published over a hundred articles in a wide range of scholarly journals. Additionally, he is a frequent Op-Ed contributor to U.S. and Canadian newspapers. Marmor began his career as a special assistant to Wilbur Cohen (Secretary of HEW) in the mid-1960s. He has served as associate dean of Minnesota''''s School of Public Affairs, a faculty member at the University of Chicago, the head of Yale''''s Center for Health Services, a member of President Carter''''s Commission on the National Agenda for the 1980s, and a senior social policy advisor to Walter Mondale in the presidential campaign of 1984. He has testified before Congress about medical care reform, social security, and welfare issues, as well as being a consultant to government and non-profit agencies.

Jerry L. Mashaw, Yale University

Jerry L. Mashaw, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, teaches courses on administrative law, social welfare policy, regulation, legislation, and the design of public institutions. His books include Administrative Law: Introduction to the American Public Law System, Sixth Edition (with Richard Merrill and Peter Shane, 2009); Bureaucratic Justice (1983), awarded Harvard University’s Gerard Henderson Memorial Prize in 1993; The Struggle for Auto Safety (with David Harfst, 1990), awarded the Sixth Annual Scholarship Prize of the ABA’s Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy in 1992; and Greed, Chaos, and Governance: Using Public Choice to Improve Public Law (1997), awarded the ABA’s Section’s Twelfth Annual Scholarship Prize in 1998 and the Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award in 2002. He is a frequent contributor to legal and public policy journals, newspapers, and news magazines. Professor Mashaw is a founding member and past President of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

John Pakutka

John Pakutka is managing director of The Crescent Group, an advisory services firm with expertise in healthcare management, policy, and litigation. Firm clients have included Fortune 500 companies, Global 100 law firms, health systems, investment banks, insurance companies, state governments, and the United States Department of Justice. Prior to founding The Crescent Group, he worked for Exxon/Reliance Electric, the United States Government Accountability Office, Yale University, and APM/Computer Sciences Corporation. He has served on numerous public and non-profit boards and commissions, most recently the Connecticut State Legislature’s Task Force on Small Business Health Costs and the Citizenship Fund of the Connecticut Secretary of the State. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Cornell and an MPPM in management from Yale, where he lectures annually in the Product Planning class at the School of Management. John blogs about social insurance protections at www.sixthreats.com and can be followed on Twitter at @sixthreats.

Sample Pages