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Targeting in Social Programs: Avoiding Bad Bets, Removing Bad Apples Hardcover – November 1, 2006


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Targeting in Social Programs: Avoiding Bad Bets, Removing Bad Apples + More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (Issues of Our Time) + Trapped in America's Safety Net: One Family's Struggle (Chicago Studies in American Politics)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815778805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815778806
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Quite compelling." —Frank Pasquale, Concurring Opinions blog



"Peter Schuck and Richard Zeckhauser have given a solid analytic underpinning to the business of reforming the reforms of earlier eras, in [this] remarkably clear-headed and good-hearted little book." —David Warsh, Economicprincipals.com



"If, perchance, you want to make the American welfare state either more affordable or more politically palatable to a suspicious public, you should read this book, ponder it, and give it to a friend." —Christopher Jencks, Harvard University



"Schuck and Zeckhauser have written a work that is at once lively and entertaining —and analytically rigorous and policy relevant. It deserves a wide and influential readership because the country really would be better off with social programs that made fewer bad bets, and removed more bad apples." —William Kristol, Weekly Standard



"Schuck and Zeckhauser's Targeting in Social Programs in clear prose makes the case for predictive targeting as a center piece of welfare legislation." —Ian Ayres, Yale Law School



"Schuck and Zeckhauser provide a timely, sophisticated challenge concerning the effective allocation of resources for social programs." —M. Oromaner, Hudson County Community College, CHOICE



" Targeting in Social Programs is a valuable contribution to the literature on public policy. Schuck and Zeckhauser do not push for any particular policy; instead they present a detailed approach to improving the efficiency of any social program. This hard-hitting, analytically rigorous book should be welcomed by conservatives and liberals alike. It deserves a wide audience among designers, administrators, and students of public programs." —Victor R.Fuchs, Henry J. Kaiser Jr. Professor Emeritus, Stanford University



"There's no higher priority in American domestic policy than making our nation's social programs work better. With their focus on targeting, Schuck and Zeckhauser make a creatvie and important contribution to the debate in this vital area. " —Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury



"This is an admirable contribution to the present debate over public choice and social welfare targeting--hard-headed, analytical, clearly written, and accessible." — Journal of Regional Science



"Highly recommended." — EconJeff

Review

"There's no higher priority in American domestic policy than making our nation's social programs work better. With their focus on targeting, Schuck and Zeckhauser make a creatvie and important contribution to the debate in this vital area. " ¿Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Warsh on December 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bad Apples and Good Bets

Something like 150 years have passed since the emerging industrial economies of Europe began systematically constructing social programs and safety nets. Before that, life was mostly lived at the local level. There was plenty of loss-sharing and charity, but it was usually home-grown and face-to-face.

With an eighteenth century revolution in transportation, inventions proliferated and the market system spread. Cities grew. And so in the nineteenth century emerged the institutions of public health and education; unemployment, welfare and retirement systems; medical insurance; risk regulation; housing and other programs - all designed to enhance living standards of the many and prevent the few from falling beneath a certain level.

In the first half of the twentieth century these social programs became widespread. In the second half, they grew rapidly, until they began to hit a ceiling of some fraction of national income spent through taxes - "Clark's law," conservatives called it for a time, after Colin Clark, a famous empirical economist who postulated in 1945 that there would prove to be a limit of around 25 percent of GNP which could properly be spent through borrowing and taxation. During the 1980s, the law morphed into a limit -- "Lindbeck's Limit" after Assar Lindbeck, the Swedish political economist who conjectured more mildly that such a nebulous constraint on social spending must exist.

Today the existence of a ceiling seems to be a more-or-less established fact. As Samuel Brittan wrote in the Financial Times last week, "[E]ven left-of-center parties now assume that there is little public tolerance for a further increase in the share of tax in national income.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harold A. Pollack on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Nobody knows more than Peter Schuck and Richard Zeckhauser about the tradeoffs between incentives and social protection in public policy. With a dry wit and an unsentimental eye, these authors explain why it is so difficult to target public benefits to those most in need, let alone to those who would make best use of public resources. In domains ranging from tax policy to health insurance to admissions policies in colleges and homeless shelters, Schuck and Zeckhauser show that good policy and good politics require smart responses to targeting dilemmas. Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, you will think differently about public policy after reading this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Victor R. Fuchs on December 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Targeting in Social Programs is a valuable contribution to the literature on public policy. Schuck and Zeckhauser do not push for any particular policy; instead they present a detailed approach to improving the efficiency of any social program. This hard-hitting, analytically rigorous book should be welcomed by conservatives and liberals alike. It deserves a wide audience among designers, administrators, and students of public programs.

Victor R.Fuchs

Henry J. Kaiser Jr. Professor Emeritus

Stanford University
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian Ayres on February 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Predictive targeting is the key policy innovation that is helping a number of government subsidies pass cost-benefit analysis. Supporters of Head Start, for example, often point out that a year in jail costs about 5 times as much as a year in Head Start. But that statistic by itself doesn't mean that Head Start is a good investment -- even if we knew that Head Start graduates almost never commit crime. Most kids aren't going to commit crime anyway and so they don't need the crime-reducing benefits of the Head Start program. For Head Start to pass cost-benefit muster it is crucial that it focuses its attention on those who it can really help. This means kicking out those who already have such good life chances that they are a bad bet in terms of predictive impact. And it means kicking out the bad apples and those who are so bad that they are unlikely to be helped by exposure to the program.

Schuck and Zeckhauser's "Targeting in Social Programs" in clear prose makes the case for predictive targeting as a center piece of welfare legislation. Their revolution has already begun. Predictive targeting has radically improved the benefit cost ratio of unemployment training programs.

But much work still needs to be done. "Targeting in Social Programs" shows why failing to attend to bad apples and bad bets is likely to rob many programs of their net utility and political support.

Ian Ayres

William K. Townsend Professor

Yale Law School
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