What is social policy analysis?

Written by shane hall
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What is social policy analysis?
Social policy analysis studies policy approaches to social issues such as homelessness ("homeless - please help" sign image by Christopher Martin from Fotolia.com)

Social policy analysis uses the tools and methods of public policy analysis to assess policy options for reducing poverty, improving education and providing health care. These and other social programs are often expensive and politically contentious.


Types of social policies studied by policy analysts include health, education and welfare policies. Examples of programs include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, school lunch programs and Food Stamps.


Social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, among others, account for more than half of federal spending in the United States, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Social policy analysis helps policy makers identify, from a set of options, actions that appear most likely to satisfy social needs such as education and income security, or reduce social problems such as poverty.


Social policy analysis, like other policy studies, draws from the knowledge bases and research methods of a range of disciplines, including sociology, political science, education, public health and economics.


Social policy analyses often reflect the political preferences and biases of the individuals or organisations conducting the analyses. Liberals support social programs as a "safety net" for the less fortunate, while conservatives contend that most social programs foster dependency.

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