Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook


"This volume is an excellent overview of the dimensions and sources of American poverty. John Iceland combines statistical data, theoretical arguments, and historical information in a book that is highly readable and will very likely become a standard reference for students of poverty."--William Julius Wilson, author of "When Work Disappears

"In just a few short pages, Iceland brings anyone--lay reader, student, professional researcher--up to speed on the major issues and debates about poverty in America. With succinct and engaging prose, "Poverty in America covers the gamut--from theoretical issues to measurement to history to public policy--better than any other book out there right now."--Dalton Conley, author of "Honky

"Must reading on a tough and important topic. With some answers that may surprise, Iceland sorts out competing theories of why people are poor in the richest country in the world. His book should motivate every reader--policy maker, researcher, citizen-- to think hard aboutwhat it means to be poor today and how our society can best reduce the hardship and poverty still with us."--Constance F. Citro, National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington, D.C.


In 1971, Robert Lampman, who had been a key economic adviser to President Lyndon Johnson on anti-poverty initiatives, predicted that poverty would be eradicated by 1980. James Tobin, another policy adviser, had been equally hopeful when he declared his views in a 1967 New Republic article entitled β€œIt Can Be Done! Conquering Poverty in the U. S. by 1976. ”

Today these predictions seem decidedly naive. In fact, by the mid1970s, with the country in the midst of a recession and an oil crisis, it had already become clear that these optimistic forecasts would prove inaccurate. Poverty rates fluctuated in response to economic booms and busts in the last decades of the twentieth century but saw no further overall decline; they are still particularly high among minority groups, children, and female-headed families. It now seems as unlikely as ever that we will witness drastic falls in poverty in the near future. This leads one to ask: Were Lampman and Tobin fabulously misguided, or did they in fact offer reasonable predictions given the trends at the time? Why does poverty remain so pervasive? Is poverty unavoidable? Are people from particular racial and ethnic backgrounds or family types inevitably more likely to be poor? What can we expect over the next few years? What are the limits of policy?

In addition to providing an in-depth examination of trends and patterns of poverty in the United States, I advance several arguments through the course of this book. First, views of poverty vary over time . . .

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