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The Politics of Pensions
A Comparative Analysis of Britain, Canada, and the United States, 1880–1940
Ann Shola Orloff

“There is a vast literature on the development of the welfare state but few substantive comparative books that pursue a causal analysis. Ann Orloff’s project will be an exceptionally important addition to the literature. This book will force those interested in explaining the development of the welfare state to revise their arguments.”
—Jill Quadagno, Florida State University

By offering a comparative, institutional analysis of how state-supported pensions for the elderly developed in Britain, Canada, and the United States, Ann Shola Orloff makes a profound contribution to understanding the growth of modern social welfare policies. It is not enough, Orloff demonstrates, to simply examine socioeconomic factors in the growth of the welfare state. She argues that welfare policies are shaped as well by the political institutions and processes that are the legacy of state formation and expansion in given nations.

Orloff explains why, when, and how poor relief was replaced by modern social insurance legislation and pensions for the elderly in the first three decades of the twentieth century. She analyzes the long-term social and political transformations that laid the basis for modern social politics: the spread of waged work, the development of New Liberal ideologies, and the expansion and transformation of state administrative capacities. Combining original historical research with the analysis of secondary sources, Orloff’s work is an excellent example of the use of comparative and historical methods to answer questions about macropolitical transformation, such as the origin of the welfare state.

The Politics of Pensions outlines an original, interdisciplinary approach that will appeal to a wide variety of readers: political sociologists interested in the state, social workers and specialists in old age policy, and comparative researchers of all disciplines engaged in research on the welfare state.

Ann Shola Orloff
is associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the coeditor, with Margaret Weir and Theda Skocpol, of The Politics of Social Policy in the United States.


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March 1993

LC: 92-050256 HD
384 pp. 6 x 9
8 figs.

Book icon Paper $19.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-13224-8
Book icon Cloth $60.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-13220-0
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