America’s Two Worlds of Welfare: Subnational Institutions and Social Assistance in Metropolitan America
by Margaret Weir, Brown University, and Jessica Schirmer, University of California, Berkeley
Studies of the “delegated state” highlight the growing role of nongovernmental organizations to fulfill public purposes. We argue that America’s delegated state has taken two distinct forms: a civic-public model prominent in the North and Midwest and a very different religious-private model more evident in the South and the West. Distinctive regional legacies rooted in European immigration, religion, race, and the timing of urban growth gave rise to diverse organizational configurations for assisting the poor in different parts of the country. As a consequence, the institutions for assisting the poor are weaker in the growing regions of the South and Mountain West.