The politics of welfare reform in Wisconsin

Lawrence M. Mead

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Past research on welfare politics is mostly about why the liberal welfare reform proposals of the 1960s and 1970s were defeated. The politics of the more conservative 1980s and 1990s, less studied, include several messy compromises between the parties and a clear-cut conservative backlash - the 1996 federal welfare reform. Wisconsin, home of the nation's most radical reform, suggests a more promising pattern - bipartisan concordat. The state imposed severe work requirements on welfare adults while, at the same time, providing unprecedented subsidies for the working poor. The political basis was unusual agreement among the parties coupled with the weakness of outside veto groups. Background factors included Wisconsin's conservative society and a masterful government, the heir of Progressivism In Wisconsin, liberals accepted the end of entitlement, while conservatives accepted an expanded antipoverty policy. If other states, or the nation, did likewise, the welfare state would be more strongly founded.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)531-559
    Number of pages29
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2000

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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