The Dynamic Welfare State

June 2, 2016


The Dynamic Welfare State makes a case for a radical shift in how we view the roles of both public and private institutions in the United States. It documents the emergence of a third stage in the American welfare state, evident in corporations exploiting markets in healthcare, education, and financial services. Architects of the welfare state envisaged government as the provider of essential services to citizens; however, as the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010 show, corporations and the wealthy have become adept at using trade associations, hiring lobbyists, influencing elections, and contributing to think tanks in order to craft public policy that is congruent with industry preferences. Moreover, the influence of "dark money" through political action committees classified by the IRS as "social welfare organizations" in order to obscure the identity of donors is pernicious to democracy. In addition to accounting for the marketization of public policy, The Dynamic Welfare State describes the failure of health and human services professionals to advance the welfare of the public, graphically illustrated by the poverty trap, the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, and the "school-to-prison pipeline." The status quo is unsustainable, and a reconfigured welfare state is essential if government social programs are to honor their public commitments for the 21st century. In this bold and timely text, David Stoesz illustrates how and why empowerment, mobility, and innovation are themes for a dynamic welfare state that is congruent with the modern day.


"Rising inequality not only impacts the distribution of resources in the economy, but also is fundamentally altering the way our government works to meet its most basic obligation-to support the general welfare. Through a clear and detailed accounting, Stoesz masterfully explains how our entire social policy infrastructure is being transformed by concentrated power and wealth, farming out public responsibilities to poorly conceived and poorly regulated social markets." 

--Reid Cramer, PhD, Director of the Asset Building Program, New America

"While there are a number of books focused on welfare and social policy, I am aware of none that directly focus on the reasons for the dynamism that the author discerns in the evolution of the American welfare state, nor the role of liberal and conservative think tanks in shaping that debate or the corporate world's dependence on the new arrangements. This text is one of a kind." 

--Robert E. Moffit, PhD, Senior Fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation

"...The American road to the new 'dynamic welfare state,' evocatively portrayed by David Stoesz in this important and pioneering monograph, cannot rely on a return of the state as the core guardian of American welfare. Taking inspiration from the spirit of social pragmatism of the New Deal while offering customized assistance rather than the one-size-fits-none standardized interventions of the past, it must make the most of humanizing markets. Stoesz's authoritative, provocative, and well-researched book will most definitely trigger future-oriented policy imagination for making the U.S. variety of the dynamic welfare state work." 

--Anton Hemerijck, DPhil, Drs, Professor of Institutional Policy Analysis at VU University Amsterdam; Centennial Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)