Although welfare state institutions play a central role in protecting social rights and promoting social inclusion, they have come under sharp attack in the last few decades within the United States. Policy reforms have sharply curtailed some forms of welfare assistance and have devolved administration of others from the federal to the state government and from the public to the private sector. Meanwhile, transfers through the tax system have soared. Has the welfare reform movement weakened public assistance generally or merely shifted the funding sources?
Irwin Garfinkel of Columbia University and Marcia K. Meyers of the University of Washington approach this issue with a two-year study of New York City's welfare state; examining the full range of welfare services by all the city's administrative agencies and governmental sectors and then assessing their effects on the well-being of families and children. New York provides an especially useful case study because of its size, diversity, and staggering income inequality. Garfinkel and Meyers have assembled an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine what the modern welfare state provides and how it assists disadvantaged populations in New York. The group will study cash assistance, health care, education, housing, and childcare. They will draw heavily from three waves of the New York Social Indicators Survey, which presents data on government transfers through the tax system, private sources of assistance and direct government assistance. The results of the project will be compiled in an edited volume with three sections. The first part will provide a conceptual and empirical overview of the welfare state in New York; the second section will consist of case studies; and the third section will analyze welfare's impact on families and children.