The Welfare explosion in the 1960s: Public policy vs Social theory The decade of the 1960s in the United States was a characterized by economic climate of relative prosperity and stability with a number of social welfare programs in place to address the needs of the poor. Persistent poverty continued to be a prevalent concern, however, especially among blacks and minorities. These conditions prompted the federal government to launch the War on Poverty which included an elevation in the definition of poverty as well increased welfare payments. Welfare in the United States can be described as the provision of federal, state and local government programs and services to help alleviate the adverse social and economic conditions and needs of the poor. This help is provided in cash as well as in-kind services through a number and variety of programs such as Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. The development of the liberal social welfare structure in the United States has been through the "pragmatic and incremental" combination of old fashioned tradition and adaptation to meet the needs created through changing social and economic conditions. In the earliest colonial times the social safety net consisted primarily of families, local communities and charitable giving often carried out through religious establishments.
Between the start of the twentieth century and 1940 government expenditures on relief for the poor increased by a factor of ten. Between 1960 and 1970 the number of families receiving welfare assistance increased by 222% with the largest increase occurring after 1964. The "War on Poverty", which officially began in 1964, represented a new and ambitious approach by the federal, state and local governments together with non-profit organizations and anti-poverty groups in an institutionalized approach to dealing with the problem of persistent poverty, along with increasing...
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