Halfmann 185 ECO.doc - Sociology Department at UC Davis

Sociology 185: Social Welfare Policy
Drew Halfmann
Course Description
This is an upper division course. Upper division standing and previous courses in the
social sciences are recommended. The course examines the welfare state (social policy)-government policies that affect the welfare of individuals, families and groups. Such
policies include worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, old-age insurance,
public assistance to people who are disabled or poor, health insurance, sickness and
maternity leave, family and child allowances, child care, labor market policy, tax policy
and macroeconomic policy. The course will examine the characteristics of American
policies in comparative and historical perspective. It will also examine political
contention surrounding these policies. The American welfare state is commonly
considered a “laggard”—spending less on social policy than other advanced democracies
and lacking policies which are standard in other countries such as national health
insurance and family allowances. We will explore explanations for this “American
Most readings will come from a course reader. Books will include:
Sharon Hays, Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform
Kingdon, John W. 1999. America the unusual. New York: Worth ublishers.
Olsen, Greg M. 2002. The Politics of the Welfare State: Canada, Sweden and the United
States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Course Requirements and Grading:
There will be three short written assignments, a ten-page paper, and a take-home final,
each worth approximately 1/3 of the final grade.