Losing Ground (book)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980 is a 1984 book about the effectiveness of welfare state policies in the United States between 1950 and 1980 by political scientist Charles Murray. It has been listed as one of the most influential books on policy and social science in the United States in the 20th century. It has created controversy because of its policy proposals.


Murray wrote the book while a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, then under the aegis of Irving Kristol. The Manhattan Institute funded his work on the book and also promoted it. Joan Kennedy Taylor of the Manhattan Institute is credited with having brought the book into publication.


Murray's main thesis is that social welfare programs, as they have historically been implemented in the United States, tend to increase poverty rather than decrease it because they create incentives rewarding short-sighted behavior not conducive to escaping poverty in the long term.

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