Growing Public examines the question of whether social policies that redistribute income impose constraints on economic growth. What kept prospering nations from using taxes for social programs until the end of the nineteenth century? Why did taxes and spending then grow so much, and what are the prospects for social spending in this century? Why did North America become a leader in public education in some ways and not others? Lindert finds answers in the economic history and logic of political voice, population ageing, and income growth. Contrary to traditional beliefs, the net national costs of government social programs are virtually zero. This book not only shows that no Darwinian mechanism has punished the welfare states, but uses history to explain why this surprising result makes sense. Contrary to the intuition of many economists and the ideology of many politicians, social spending has contributed to, rather than inhibited, economic growth.
• Examines the question of whether social policies that redistribute income impose constraints on economic growth • Frontier research that is readable for undergraduates • Controversial and topical, especially on findings about the effects of the welfare state on economic growth
Part V. The Underlying Framework: 13. A minimal theory of social transfers; 14. A guide to the tests; Part VI. Accounting for Social Spending, Jobs and Growth: 15. Explaining the rise of mass public schooling; 16. Explaining the rise of social transfers; 17. What drove postwar social spending?; 18. Social transfers hardly affected growth; 19. Reconciling unemployment and growth in the OECD; Appendices.
The Economic History Association has awarded the Gyorgy Ranki Prize for the best book in European economic history in 2003-2004. 2003-2004 - Joint winner
The Social Science History Association has given the 2005 Allan Sharlin Award, for the best book in social science history published in 2004 2005 - Winner
Review of the hardback: '… a monumental history of two centuries of social spending …' The Economist
Review of the hardback: 'Lindert puts forward a compelling case … his conclusions are often illuminating and controversial … Lindert has uncovered new and tougher areas of debate as much as he has helped deal a telling blow to others.' Transfer