Search - List of Books by Lawrence M. Mead
Lawrence M. Mead (born 1943, Huntington, New York) is a Professor in the Department of Politics at New York University, where he is currently Professor of Politics and Public Policy.
Total Books: 12
Mead is best known as an expert on poverty and welfare in the United States. In the books he wrote between 1986 and 2004, he provided the main theoretical basis for the American welfare reform of the 1990s, which required adult recipients of welfare to work as a condition of aid. These books have also influenced welfare reform in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand..
Most other experts on poverty and welfare defended the traditional policy of entitlement, under which recipients qualified for assistance simply by having low income, regardless of lifestyle. Mead rejected entitlement in favor of conditionality. Employable recipients now had to help themselves to get help from society. However, he also differed from other conservative critics of welfare, such as Charles Murray, who wanted simply to abolish welfare. Mead had no objection to aid as such, but he insisted that it become less permissive. Mead is not a small-government conservative but a big-government conservative who wants to use government for conservative ends, in this case enforcing the work ethic. This approach came to dominate welfare policy in the 1990s. It is also seen in other areas of social policy, such as tougher enforcement of the criminal law and the movement for higher standards in the public schools.
Other experts were mostly economists and sociologists. They blamed poverty or welfare largely on adverse social conditions that denied the poor the chance to work and support themselves. The answer, they argued, was to push back these barriers by giving the poor new benefits and opportunities. In contrast, Mead was a political scientist who blamed poverty largely on a breakdown of public authority. Poverty reflected disorder more than denials of opportunity. The poor were too free, rather than not free enough. The solution was to enforce values such as the work ethic or law-abidingness more effectively. Other experts did statistical analyses of the conditions surrounding the poor. While Mead published some quantitative research, his books were based largely on field research on welfare work programs in New York and Wisconsin. He argued that better-run, more demanding work programs had a power to move the adult poor into jobs and thus reduce poverty and welfare. In the 1990s welfare reform drove most recipients off the rolls, mostly into jobs, apparently confirming Mead's prediction. Other experts, however, attributed the success of reform mostly to excellent economic conditions and new benefits.
Mead thinks more political scientists should do policy research,a s few have done. He favors a form of research combining policy and political analysis. Authors should take a position on an issue on the merits, as policy experts do, but then also explain the political and bureaucratic reasons why government may be unable to "do the right thing." What government should do and what it can do can each be critiqued in light of the other.
Mead has written three books, coauthored one book, and edited or coedited three other volumes, all of them on poverty and/or government welfare policies. Government Matters, his study of welfare reform in Wisconsin, was a Co-winner of the Louis Brownlow Book Award (2005), which is given by the National Academy of Public Administration. He has published dozens of articles on poverty, welfare, program implementation, and related subjects in scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Public Administration Review, The Public Interest, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. His book reviews and commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets.
Mead has lectured on poverty policy and welfare reform in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Recently, he has been researching how to better enforce work among poor men who owe child support or are leaving prison on parole. He also is studying, and teaching a course on, the reasons why first Britain and then the United States became dominant countries in international relations.
Mead at taught at New York University since 1979. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin (1987), Harvard University (1993-4) and Princeton University (1994-5). He was a visiting fellow at Princeton (1995-6, 2001-2) and the Hoover Institution at Stanford (1988). Currently, he is a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Prior to moving to NYU, Mead was Deputy Director of Research for the Republican National Committee (1978—1979), a Research Associate at The Urban Institute (1975—1978), a speechwriter to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger (1974—1975), and a policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1973—1975).
He received his B.A. from Amherst College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1966, and his MA and Ph. D from Harvard University in 1968 and 1973.