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The Winding Road to the Welfare State$
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George R. Boyer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178738

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178738.001.0001

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Social Welfare Policy, Living Standards, and Self-Help, 1861–1908

Social Welfare Policy, Living Standards, and Self-Help, 1861–1908

(p.75) 3 Social Welfare Policy, Living Standards, and Self-Help, 1861–1908
The Winding Road to the Welfare State

George R. Boyer

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the Crusade Against Outrelief and its effects on working-class behavior. The increased use of the workhouse caused a sharp decline in the share of the population receiving poor relief. The crusade ended the use of the Poor Law to assist those temporarily in need during economic dislocations—after 1870 there is no hint of the trade cycle in aggregate statistics on numbers receiving relief, as there should have been in a modern social insurance regime with its “automatic stabilizers.” As such, working-class self-help increased greatly after 1870, so that by the beginning of the twentieth century most skilled workers had some protection against negative income shocks. However, the situation was different for the low-skilled, most of whom had little savings and remained quite vulnerable to unexpected income loss.

Keywords:   Crusade Against Outrelief, working-class behavior, workhouse, poor relief, Poor Law, economic dislocations, social insurance regime, self-help, income loss

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