Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice

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In an era of political polarization and fiscal austerity, policy debates too readily become trapped in a binary of either universal responses or targeted solutions.

In an era of political polarization and fiscal austerity, policy debates too readily become trapped in a binary of either universal responses or targeted solutions. Universal responses enjoy a degree of legitimacy in a diverse and pluralistic society, but they may also be viewed as unaffordable and overly ambitious, while also inadequate at helping those most in need. Therefore, the most marginalized people are often the most skeptical of ostensibly universal policies. Targeted policies may be more efficient and less costly, but by targeting a particular group, these approaches are often viewed as unfairly helping one group over another, seeding hostility and resentment.

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