Are U.S. congregations patching the social safety net? Trends from 1998 to 2012.
Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, vol. 46(3), 2019 Sep, pp. 39-62
As social services become increasingly privatized amid a federal policy environment that provides a means-tested, temporary social safety net, there is potential for a larger contribution by congregations as a social service provider. Using data from a nationally representative sample of religious congregations collected in 1998, 2006, and 2012, we examine whether congregations have increased social service activity over time using three measures of service provision, and whether provision varies by the congregation’s community-level context. Controlling for organizational capacity, we find that after the Great Recession, congregations are more likely than before to engage in broad social services and to engage in “core” services that address basic economic needs. We find the trend differs by the poverty status of the congregation’s neighborhood, with congregations in high-poverty neighborhoods less likely to provide services in 1998 than congregations in low-poverty neighborhoods; after the recession, not only are significantly more congregations in high-poverty neighborhoods providing services than in 1998, they have closed the gap with congregations in low-poverty neighborhoods and are equally likely to be providing any services regardless of neighborhood poverty. Our findings highlight the importance of social service measurement to determine the prevalence of congregation-level service provision and suggest that the role congregations play in providing services may be substantial, but it may still be an inadequate substitute for the public safety net.
Warren, E. J., Waring, M. K., & Meyer, D. R. (2019). Are U.S. congregations patching the social safety net? Trends from 1998 to 2012. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 46(3), 39–62.
Warren, E. J., M. K. Waring, and D. R. Meyer. “Are U.S. Congregations Patching the Social Safety Net? Trends from 1998 to 2012.” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 46, no. 3 (September 2019): 39–62.
Warren, E. J., et al. “Are U.S. Congregations Patching the Social Safety Net? Trends from 1998 to 2012.” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, vol. 46, no. 3, Sept. 2019, pp. 39–62.