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Government Matters:
Welfare Reform in Wisconsin
Lawrence M. Mead

Winner of the 2005 Louis Brownlow Book Award, National Academy of Public Administration

Paperback | 2005 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691123806
368 pp. | 5 x 8 | 6 line illus. 44 tables.
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"Good government" is commonly seen either as a formidable challenge, a distant dream, or an oxymoron, and yet it is the reason why Wisconsin led America toward welfare reform. In this book, Lawrence Mead shows in depth what the Badger State did and--just as important--how it was done. Wisconsin's welfare reform was the most radical in the country, and it began far earlier than that in most other states. It was the achievement of legislators and administrators who were unusually high-minded and effective by national standards. Their decade-long struggle to overhaul welfare is a gripping story that inspires hope for better solutions to poverty nationwide.

Mead shows that Wisconsin succeeded--not just because it did the right things, but because its government was unusually masterful. Politicians collaborated across partisan lines, and administrators showed initiative and creativity in revamping welfare. Although Wisconsin erred at some points, it achieved promising policies, which then had good outcomes in terms of higher employment and reduced dependency. Mead also shows that these lessons hold nationally. It is states with strong good-government traditions, such as Wisconsin, that typically have implemented welfare reform best. Thus, solutions to poverty must finally look past policies and programs to the capacities of government itself. Although governmental quality is uneven across the states, it is also improving, and that bodes well for better antipoverty policies in the future.

Review:

"The rich detail provided by the author and his investigation into the provision of administrative services make this a useful addition to the literature on welfare reform, state politics, and public policy."--Choice

"Government Matters offers an important, in-depth analysis of the government institutions that developed and implemented Wisconsin's welfare reform program. The book will be most attractive to academic audiences, as well as practitioners and researchers who have an interest in administrative structures in general and in Wisconsin's welfare reform efforts in particular."--Susan T. Gooden and Kasey J. Martin, Public Administration Review

"Lawrence Mead's new book is . . . an especially welcome addition to the literature on contemporary welfare policy. . . . Government Matters provides a valuable portrait of the political and administrative dimensions of putting policy into practice over time. It is an important book that raises vitally important questions about the contemporary American welfare state, governance, and the meaning of citizenship."--Laura S. Jenson, Perspectives on Politics

"Lawrence Mead's book is an extraordinary chronicle of perhaps the most well known and successful instance of American welfare reform in the 1990s, in Wisconsin. . . . [A] judicious combination of interviews, participant-observation, documentary research, and statistical analysis."--Robert C. Lieberman, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
List of Acronyms xiii
CHAPTER 1
Introduction 1
CHAPTER 2
The Development of Reform 18
CHAPTER 3
The Politics of Reform 37
CHAPTER 4
Implementing Work Requirements 63
CHAPTER 5
Local Variations 79
CHAPTER 6
The Emergence of W-2 107
CHAPTER 7
Implementing W-2 132
CHAPTER 8
Paternalism 157
CHAPTER 9
The Decline of Welfare 175
CHAPTER 10
The Effects of Reform 193
CHAPTER 11
Welfare Reform and Good Government 214
CHAPTER 12
Origins of Excellence 245
CHAPTER 13
Implications 261
Notes 279
Index 341

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    File created: 9/23/2014

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