Poverty and Self-Help

Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, by Charles Murray (New York: Basic Books, 1984). State welfarism leads to dependency and ruined lives, according to this carefully researched and influential work.

Reinventing Civil Society: The Rediscovery of Welfare without Politics, by David Green (London: Institute of Economic Affairs Health and Welfare Unit, 1993). Describes how voluntary associations and institutions once provided welfare but were crowded out by the emerging welfare state.

Working Class Patients and the Medical Establishment: Self-Help in Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to 1948, by David Green (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985). An examination of the functioning of voluntary medical care in Britain before National Health Insurance; state medicine was imposed to serve the cartelizing tendencies of the medical profession and resulted in higher costs, lower quality, and diminished consumer sovereignty.

The Friendly Societies in England, 1815-1875, by P.H.J.H. Gosden (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1961). An historical look at the voluntary alternative to statist welfare systems.

The Conquest of Poverty, by Henry Hazlitt (New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1973). How the market creates prosperity and eliminates poverty.

"Voluntary Organizations and the Welfare State," by Robert Sugden, in Privatisation and the Welfare State (London: Allen & Unwin, 1984), ed. by Julian Le Grand and Ray Robinson. A careful economic examination of the functioning of voluntary versus coercive welfare institutions.

The Rule of Experts: Occupational Licensing in America, by S. David Young (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1987). A look at licensing laws, which restrict entry to professions and deny opportunities for economic and social advancement to the poor, at the same time that they harm consumers.

"Support of the Elderly Before the Depression: Individual and Collective Arrangements," by Carolyn L. Weaver in Cato Journal 7 (Fall 1987): 503-525. Weaver shows the variety of voluntary arrangements that people used to provide for retirement and old age care.

Reclaiming the American Dream: The Role of Private Individuals and Voluntary Associations, by Richard C. Cornuelle (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1993). This book is one of the most important studies of the voluntary independent sector available, showing how it has operated (and still does) and stressing the importance of the voluntary sector as a bulwark against state coercion.

"Mutual Aid for Social Welfare: The Case of American Fraternal Societies," by David T. Beito in Critical Review 4(Fall 1990): 709-36. Beito provides valuable information on the functioning of fraternal societies in America before their replacement by the welfare state. He reveals the special significance of voluntary organizations among immigrant groups and African-Americans.

Return to [Selected Issues] [Guide to Classical Liberal Scholarship][IHS homepage]