State support for families in the United States

Authored by: Maxine Eichner

Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415640404
eBook ISBN: 9780203796221
Adobe ISBN: 9781134447534


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For much of the twentieth century, the United States had a welfare state premised on the assumption of maternal caretaking, albeit a welfare state that provided scanter support than most other wealthy, industrialized countries. The US model assumed that families’ caretaking and human development responsibilities would be performed by wives and mothers, who would generally be supported financially by their husbands. Accordingly, state support for families was not seen as appropriate in the ordinary course of events. It was, instead, directed to those families who possessed no breadwinner. Financial support to these families by the state substituted for the breadwinner’s pay and ensured that the caregiver-mother could stay at home to care for children. 1

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