© 2020

Welfare Doesn't Work

The Promises of Basic Income for a Failed American Safety Net


Part of the Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee book series (BIG)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 1-20
  3. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 21-42
  4. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 43-60
  5. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 61-77
  6. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 79-92
  7. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 93-106
  8. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 107-126
  9. Leah Hamilton
    Pages 127-140
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 141-144

About this book


This book explores the incentives and effects of modern welfare policy, contrasted with outcomes of global basic income pilots in the past seventy years. The author contends that paternalistic and counterproductive eligibility rules in the modern American welfare state violate the human dignity of the poor and make it nearly impossible to escape the “poverty trap.” Furthermore, these types of restrictions are absent from expenditures aimed at middle and upper-income households such as mortgage interest deductions and tax-sheltered retirement accounts. Case examples from the author's years as a front-line social worker and interviews with basic income pilot recipients in Ontario, Canada, are woven throughout the book to better illustrate the effects of the current system and the hidden potential of more radical alternatives such as a universal basic income.


universal basic income ubi basic income big welfare state welfare TANF SNAP EITC LIFT the Middle Class Act Basic Income Earth Network US Basic Income Guarantee

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

About the authors

Leah Hamilton is Associate Professor of Social Work at Appalachian State University, USA. She is an Executive Committee member for the Basic Income Earth Network and President of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Welfare Doesn't Work
  • Book Subtitle The Promises of Basic Income for a Failed American Safety Net
  • Authors Leah Hamilton
  • Series Title Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee
  • Series Abbreviated Title Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Pivot, Cham
  • eBook Packages Economics and Finance Economics and Finance (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-37120-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-37123-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-37121-0
  • Series ISSN 2662-3803
  • Series E-ISSN 2662-3811
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 144
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Public Economics
    Social Choice/Welfare Economics/Public Choice/Political Economy
    US Politics
    Public Policy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site