America's Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century

America's Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century

America's Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century

America's Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

This new edition of Patterson's widely used book carries the story of battles over poverty and social welfare through what the author calls the "amazing 1990s," those years of extraordinary performance of the economy. He explores a range of issues arising from the economic phenomenon--increasing inequality and demands for use of an improved poverty definition. He focuses the story on the impact of the highly controversial welfare reform of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President Clinton, despite the laments of anguished liberals.

Excerpt

In the nearly six years since the publication of the last edition of this book, the American economy has roared ahead at almost unimaginable rates of growth, thereby opening up millions of new jobs and reducing dramatically the percentage of people living in poverty. the new chapter for this edition, entitled “The Amazing 1990s,” highlights these extraordinarily encouraging economic trends.

These years also witnessed another dramatic development: congressional approval in 1996 of welfare reform that abolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replaced it with a system of federal block grants to states. States, in turn, were expected to develop their own policies to move recipients off of welfare and into the world of work. Partly because of economic growth and partly because of the reform, the number of Americans on welfare fell precipitously over the next four years. the long-range effects of the law, however, remain both uncertain and debated. the new chapter focuses on the impact thus far of this historic revision of the nation’s welfare system—a change that has sparked enormous controversy among scholars, welfare administrators, and recipients.

I thank two able research assistants, both graduate students at Brown University, Robert Fleegler and Andrew Huebner, for their considerable help in preparing this new edition.

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