Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Synopsis

The United States is among the most affluent nations in the world and has its largest economy; nevertheless, it has more poverty than most countries with similar standards of living. Growing income inequality and the Great Recession have made the problem worse. In this thoroughly revised edition of Poverty in America, Iceland takes a new look at this issue by examining why poverty remains pervasive, what it means to be poor in America today, which groups are most likely to be poor, the root causes of poverty, and the effects of policy on poverty. This new edition also includes completely updated data and extended discussions of poverty in the context of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements as well as new chapters on the Great Recession and global poverty. In doing so this book provides the most recent information available on patterns and trends in poverty and engages in an open and accessible manner in current critical debates.

Excerpt

Poverty will always be with us. This is not a new idea. From the Gospel of John to today many have despaired that poverty is an enduring feature of society, even as they search for ways to alleviate it. But is this true? Will poverty really always be with us?

The last fifty years, much like the fifty years before it, have been an economic roller coaster. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson boldly proclaimed the War on Poverty, making it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. Then, after nearly a decade of true progress against poverty in the United States—the poverty rate declined from 19 percent in 1964 to 11 percent in 1973—progress stalled. The 1970s and early 1980s saw two recessions and a simultaneous bout of high inflation and unemployment. This led Ronald Reagan to quip, in 1988, “My friends, some years ago the federal government declared war on poverty—and poverty won.” Nevertheless, the good economic times were hardly over for good. The 1990s were generally a decade of very healthy economic growth during which both high- and low-income Americans experienced increases in their standards of living. In 2000, President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors predicted the dawn of a new era in which the business cycle of boom and busts would soon be but a memory. Unfortunately, a mere decade later—after another two recessions, including the near economic catastrophe of the Great Recession of 2007–9—the economic and political mood of the country seemed to reach a new low. There was a feeling that America’s best days were in . . .

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