The concept social welfare refers broadly to the full range of activities needed to provide people with resources and opportunities to lead satisfying and productive lives. Neil Gilbert and Paul Terrell observe that those activities are carried out by six core social institutions. These include the family, religious organizations, nonprofit and charitable organizations, and government. The other two institutions are the workplace, which provides retirement and other employee benefits, and the marketplace, where persons purchase health care, child care, insurance, and other social welfare services.

This entry focuses on social welfare policies, which are government activities that intervene in the free play of market forces to help improve the well-being of individuals and families. The entry describes the two major goals of social welfare policy and ...

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