Do Federal Social Programs Work?
by David B. Muhlhausen
April 2013, 401pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2803-4
$64, £48, 56€, A87
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2804-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.
Addressing an issue of burning interest to every taxpayer, a Heritage Foundation scholar brings objective analysis to bear as he responds to the important—and provocative—question posed by his book's title.

Of course, the answer to that question will also help determine whether the American public should fear budget cuts to federal social programs. Readers, says author David B. Muhlhausen, can rest easy. As his book decisively demonstrates, scientifically rigorous national studies almost unanimously find that the federal government fails to solve social problems. To prove his point, Muhlhausen reports on large-scale evaluations of social programs for children, families, and workers, some advocated by Democrats, some by Republicans. But it isn’t just the results that matter. It’s the lesson to readers on how Americans can—and should—accurately assess government programs that cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

At the book’s core is an insistence that we move beyond anecdotal reasoning and often-partisan opinion to measure the effectiveness of social programs using objective analysis and scientific methods. At the very least, the results of such analysis will, like this book, provide a sound basis for much-needed public debate.

David B. Muhlhausen, PhD, is Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank in Washington, DC. Muhlhausen has testified frequently before Congress on the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs, including law enforcement grants administered by the U.S. Justice Department. In addition to his work at Heritage, Muhlhausen is adjunct professor of public policy at George Mason University, teaching program evaluation and statistical methods to graduate students. He holds a doctorate in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a bachelor's degree in political science and justice studies from Frostburg State University.


"A provocative work on an important public policy issue. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels."—Choice, November 1, 2013

"David Muhlhausen has brought together the results of the most important evaluations of federal social programs, laid out those results in full technical detail, and thereby done me and every other student of social policy an invaluable service. Anyone who wants to dispute his conclusion that federal social programs have failed must confront the evidence he presents—and that evidence is overwhelming."—Charles Murray, WH Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

"In 1984, Charles Murray's Losing Ground awakened social scientists and policymakers to the fact that many government programs were not performing, and to the need for rigorous metrics of success and failure. Now comes David B. Muhlhausen with a book that advances that project by presenting an avalanche of inconvenient evidence." —George F. Will, Author and Speaker
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