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Constraints on local welfare discretion in an era of second-order devolution

Sheely, Amanda ORCID: 0000-0002-1733-6059 (2016) Constraints on local welfare discretion in an era of second-order devolution. Policy Studies Journal, 46 (3). 651 - 673. ISSN 0190-292X

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Identification Number: 10.1111/psj.12186


Under devolution, state and local governments are expected to use the greater authority granted to them to design new and innovative programs that are tailored to local needs. Existing research on the devolution of welfare programs has reported substantial variation in the policies adopted by states in the wake of welfare reform. However, under second-order devolution, local governments also gained discretion over welfare services. Some have argued that, while devolution should increase flexibility, local governments face constraints that limit their functional discretion. Using California as an example, I assess whether there is variation in the service priorities adopted by local governments and whether these priorities translate to frontline practices. I show differences in the service priorities of local governments; however, these priorities are not associated with differences in sanctioning or time limit exemptions. Thus, while local governments may formally adopt different priorities, state and federal policy choices, as well as client characteristics, may restrict priorities from translating into differences in caseworker behavior.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Policy Studies Organization
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2016 14:26
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:24
Funders: American Association of University Women

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