Center for Comparative Family Welfare and Poverty Research

Comparative Studies that Examine How Industrialized Nations Respond to the Needs of Working Families


Income maintenance programs are at the very core of our social welfare system, providing financial support for those in need. Over the last decade, increasing fiscal constraints along with growing public dissatisfaction have created pressures for the reform of income maintenance programs. It is important that proposals to revise programs such as AFDC, General Assistance, Social Security Pensions, and Disability Insurance are informed by systematic analysis of data and that their implications are carefully examined.

This group's research agenda, under the direction of faculty leader Neil Gilbert, has been developed around the problems and issues of income maintenance programs in California. The programmatic focus includes: AFDC, General Assistance, SSI, and Social Security. Policy oriented-questions are being addressed such as: What are the implications of changes in the demographics of poverty in California? What are the costs and benefits of proposed cuts in General Assistance grants? What are the effects of various measures proposed to reform AFDC? How will proposals to extend the retirement age of Social Security affect older adults in California? To what extent do recipients of General Assistance in California qualify for federal aid under SSI? This area fits closely with recent research conducted at the School of Social Welfare on the impact of GAIN in California, gender equality and social security, and the increasing use of incentives in income maintenance policy. 

Staff / Members

Faculty Leader

Neil Gilbert, (email:

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee that aids and consults the research on the Center for Comparative Family Welfare and Poverty Research is comprised of:

  • Professor Rainer Munz, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • Professor Ken Judge, University of Kent, Canterbury, England
  • Professor Maurizio Ferrera, University of Pavia, Italy
  • Sven Hort, Director, Welfare Research Center, Elarden University, Sweden
  • Professor Christoph Badelt, Vienna University of Economics, Austria
  • Professor Duncan Lindsey, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
  • Ross Mackay, Research Group Director, Wellington Department of Social Welfare, New Zealand


Comparative Study of Child Abuse Reporting Systems and Placement Trends

This project is intended to further our understanding of the social policies and institutional arrangements that frame societal responses to problems of child abuse in the United States and Europe. We learn through comparison. In analyzing the ways that different countries organize their efforts to deal with child abuse, the project provides alternative perspectives on how the problem is defined and an expanded view of policy options and social services designed to protect children.

Neil Gilbert is the Principal Investigator and funding was provided by the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

For related materials see Gilbert, N., (Ed.) (1997). Combating Child Abuse: International Perspectives on Reporting Systems and Trends. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Privatization and Targeting: Trends in Social Security

This study analyzes several trends in the changing structure of social security in the United States and their impact on older adults in different income groups. The trends examined include: the shifting public/private mix, declining replacement rates, and targeting by age.

Neil Gilbert is the Principal Investigator and funding was provided by Milton & Gertrude Chernin Chair in Social Welfare.

For a related report see Gilbert, N., & Park, N-H. (1996). Privatization, provision, and targeting: Trends and policy implications. International Social Security Review, 49.