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Economics in PerspectiveA Critical History$
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John Kenneth Galbraith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171647

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171647.001.0001

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The Birth of the Welfare State

The Birth of the Welfare State

(p.229) Chapter 16 The Birth of the Welfare State
Economics in Perspective

John Kenneth Galbraith

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the rise of the welfare state in the United States following the Great Depression. It begins with a historical background on the welfare state, tracing its origins to Germany under Count Otto von Bismarck and discussing Britain's social welfare legislation that was passed in 1911. It then considers the views of Arthur C. Pigou, who published his basic work on economics, The Economics of Welfare, in 1920, and a host of factors that sparked the movement toward the welfare state. In particular, it looks at the role of the institutionalists, led by John R. Commons, and the University of Wisconsin as the source of both the ideas and the practical initiative basic to the welfare legislation. Finally, it describes the Social Security Act of 1935 and the business reaction to it.

Keywords:   welfare state, Germany, Otto von Bismarck, Britain, Arthur C. Pigou, institutionalists, John R. Commons, University of Wisconsin, Social Security Act, social welfare

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