The Geography of American Poverty: Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies?

The Geography of American Poverty: Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies?

The Geography of American Poverty: Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies?

The Geography of American Poverty: Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies?

Synopsis

This book explores the spatial dimension of U.S. poverty, stressing differences across states, metropolitan areas, and counties, with an eye toward state and local policy prescriptions.

Excerpt

An expanding economy no longer seems a panacea, allowing us to reduce
poverty while we all become richer
.

—Rebecca Blank, a member of the Clinton administration’s Council of
Economic Advisers, speaking about how poverty rose in the 1980s

The best antipoverty program is still a job.
—President Bill Clinton at a 1996 news conference on welfare legislation

The intergenerational poverty that troubles us so much today is predominantly
a poverty of values
.

—Vice President Dan Quay le in his famous 1992 “Murphy Brown” speech,
arguing that a lack of personal values is the primary cause of poverty

Concern about the well-being of the least fortunate Americans has ebbed and flowed over the last century. the New Deal initiatives of the 1930s stimulated interest in helping those hit hardest by the Great Depression. During the war years and the prosperous 1950s, the presence of the poor faded from the consciousness of many Americans, but concern for their plight again intensified during Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the 1960s. Since then, interest in reducing poverty has continued to experience ups and downs: poverty rates are no lower today than when the War on Poverty ended in the late 1960s; on the contrary, high poverty exists in many regions of the country. To be sure, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina once again reminded Americans that concentrations of high poverty remain within our borders.

Much of the current popular discourse is driven by the view that public efforts to reduce poverty are not worthwhile, let alone effective (Moore 1997). One result of this skepticism was the landmark 1996 reform of federal welfare policy, which greatly increased the personal responsibility of the disadvantaged for their own well-being. in fact . . .

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