American Poverty in a New Era of Reform

By Harrell R. Rodgers Jr. | Go to book overview

4
Why Are People Poor in America?

Why do we have poverty in a country as rich as America? While many people, including some scholars, seem to think the answer is simple, a thoughtful analysis suggests that the antecedents of poverty are quite complex. The first complication is that the poverty population is much more diverse than many people imagine. The poverty population is a elaborate mix of people who vary by age, race, sex, geographic location, and family structure. The poor are generally stereotyped as primarily single women and their children, illegitimate or otherwise, along with street people. But, among the poor can be found the elderly, often living alone, marriedcouple families with children in which one or sometimes even both parents are employed, young healthy males who may or may not be in the labor force, single or married adults without children, and farm workers following crop rotations across the nation. The poor can be found in every state, in central cities, in suburbs and rural areas in every region of the nation. Does it seem reasonable that the same factor or factors are responsible for the poverty of all these diverse groups of people? Is an eighty-five-year-old widow poor for the same reasons as an eighteen-year-old single mother or an alcoholic derelict?

Not likely. The most common mistake in thinking about the causes of poverty is to generalize based on one group among the poor. If we

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American Poverty in a New Era of Reform
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - How Many Americans Are Poor? 9
  • 3 - The American Poverty Population 25
  • 4 - Why Are People Poor in America? 63
  • 5 - The American Welfare System 83
  • 6 - Reform: Ending Welfare as We Know It 131
  • 7 - State Welfare Plans Under PRWORA 155
  • 8 - Early Evidence on the Impact of The 1996 Welfare Reform 177
  • 9 - Refining American Social Welfare Policy 205
  • References 217
  • Index 231
  • About the Author *
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