• Welfare provision;
  • Old-age pensions;
  • Medical care;
  • Private sector;
  • United States


The American welfare state has been premised on the mixture of substantial private, tax-subsidized benefits rather than on more universalistic public benefits. That pattern is in some ways being undermined as private pension plans are increasingly going bankrupt and firms reduce the benefits they provide employees. On the other hand, however, the current Bush administration is attempting to enhance the private sector role by allowing individuals to invest at least a part of their social insurance contributions into private savings plans. These changes may in the end increase the role of the public sector as a regulator and underwriter at the same time that attempts are made to minimize public sector involvement.