The National Association of Social Workers' (NAS W) code of ethics states that social workers have a professional obligation to advocate for social policies that promote the general welfare (NASW, 1996). Presumably, in an effort to provide social workers with the analytical tools that would allow them to do so, schools of social work typically require students to do course work in the area of social welfare policy. Although these courses provide students with valuable information, it is my view that they tend to be limited in one important respect. They usually do not contain a great deal of content on how technical economic theory can be utilized in the examination of many of the social welfare policy issues that are of interest to social workers. This is unfortunate because, despite having limitations of its own, economics provides a powerful set of conceptual tools that are extremely useful in the analysis of social welfare policy issues. The rest of this paper is an attempt to demonstrate the usefulness of economics in this respect.

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