Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Reader 1

Colin Wright

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© 2012 Emanuel Angel Maceira

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the series of events and legislation that has led to the current system of welfare and wealth redistribution in the United State. I begin with a background of the origins of the welfare state in England and the United States, and discuss the social movements which gave rise to the modern welfare state. I discuss how wars, economic theories, and recessions have influenced policy, and how such policy has affected poverty and unemployment rates since the Great Depression. I have found that social welfare spending has steadily increased since the Great Depression, and that the current trend of deficit spending and expansion of the social safety-net is a product of the legislation passed during the Great Depression and the ‘Great Society’ of the 1960s. Although there have been many attempts to secure a minimum standard of living through social welfare spending, the problems of poverty and unemployment persist.

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