The National Bureau of Economic Research convened a conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 11–12 May 2000 to hear papers delivered on the major transfer programs in the United States. Sponsored by the Smith–Richardson Foundation, the conference included papers on each major program in the country. Each served the triple purpose of explicating the institutional history and current rules of the program; describing its current caseloads, expenditures, and recipient characteristics; and summarizing recent research on each program. This volume contains revised papers from that conference. This introductory chapter first provides an overview of trends in expenditures in means-tested transfers in the United States over the last three decades. It then provides an overview of the subsequent chapters.
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