Christopher Howard, "Who Cares: The Social Safety Net in America" (Oxford UP, 2022)


Societies are often judged by how they treat their most vulnerable members: the poor and near poor. In the United States, this responsibility belongs not only to governments, but also to charities, businesses, individuals, and family members. Their combined efforts generate a social safety net. 

In Who Cares: The Social Safety Net in America (Oxford UP, 2022), Christopher Howard offers the first comprehensive map of the US social safety net. He chronicles how different parts of American society talk about poverty-related needs. And he shows what Americans do to provide basic levels of income, food, housing, medical care, and daily care. Although the US social safety net is extensive, major gaps remain, particularly impacting Blacks, Hispanics, and individuals who are not employed full-time. Drawing heavily upon evidence from the years right before the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard demonstrates that these problems persist even when the economy seems healthy. Who Cares concludes with an initial assessment of how the social safety net performed during the pandemic.

Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

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Stephen Pimpare

Stephen Pimpare is Professor of Public Policy at Vermont Law and Graduate School.

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