PUBPOL 746.001: Social Welfare Policy

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Winter 2019
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This course examines U.S. social welfare programs and policies targeting the nonelderly poor, emphasizing what we know from social science research about the strengths and weaknesses and the intended and unintended effects of these policies. The course begins by addressing basic questions about the measurement and incidence of poverty in the U.S., and then surveys the scope of current social welfare programs. What does it mean to be poor in the U.S. today? How do the extent of poverty and income inequality and the scope of social welfare programs in the U.S. compare to those in other industrialized countries? A primary focus will be to explore changes to public provision for poor families that were adopted during the 1990s, including expansions of refundable tax credits, changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and public health insurance for children, and the 1996 welfare reform. A final segment of the course will examine how policies not primarily targeting poverty can nevertheless greatly impact disadvantaged families. This conversation will be embedded in work being conducted in Detroit by Poverty Solutions faculty experts. Course assignments include a policy analysis research paper in two parts (with a problem analysis and solution analysis), and a final examination.