The early twenty-first century is witnessing a concerted effort to privatize risk-to shift responsibility for the management or mitigation of key risks onto private-sector organizations or directly onto individuals. Proposals to reform Social Security through the creation of private accounts are perhaps the leading example, but in a wide range of areas, similar trends are w playing out. Yet, ironically, pensions and other private systems for responding to risk also face severe challenges-and often for the same reason that public systems do: the risks that characterize our society and ecomy have changed more rapidly than the institutions designed to deal with them. From the burdens on pension funds caused by population aging to the pressures on corporate and government health programs created by rapidly rising medical costs, the institutions of risk management are increasingly buffeted by new and intensified pressures that are reshaping how all of us experience and deal with risk.Broader questions about the future of the public sphere-in many different senses of the term-concern which public goods will be provided by governments through taxation; which will be provided by private philanthropy or organizations in civil society; which will be provided by market actors; and which will t be provided at all. These are basic questions for social science, and they are questions for a larger public discussion that needs to be informed by social science. This series brings social science research to bear on these issues, cutting through the confusion and bias common to many policy discussions. Each volume, ranging from 80 to 100 pages, presents a concise review of the issues under consideration and offers empirical, evidence-based opinion from leading scholars in the fields of ecomics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and law.In general, the five books in this series tackle the relationship between the privatization of risk, but specifically they focus on, respectively: health care and health insurance; employment insecurity and labor markets; pensions, assets, and social security; the pharmaceuticals industry; and natural disasters and homeland security.
Craig Calhoun has been president of the Social Science Research Council since 1999. He is also University Professor of the Social Sciences at NYU. Calhoun's empirical research has ranged from Britain and France to China and three different African countries. His study of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 resulted in the prize-winning book, Neither Gods Nor Emperors: Students aand the Struggle for Democracy in China. Most recently he has written Nations Matter: Citizenship, Solidarity, and the Cosmopolitan Dream. Jacob Hacker is Peter Strauss Family Professor of Political Science at Yale University and Resident Fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies. A political scientist who studies U.S. public policy in historical and cross-national perspective, he has recently published, with Paul Pierson, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy and The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity-and What Can Be Done About It.