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Understanding Poverty

Publication Abstract
Understanding Poverty cover image

Danziger, Sheldon H., and Robert Haveman. 2002. Understanding Poverty. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Addresses poverty & antipoverty policy in the US at the end of the 20th century, looking back to the 1960s to assess trends. At issue is how various demographic, economic, & policy changes have shaped poverty for all persons & select demographic groups. Contributions provide an overview of developments impacting the level & nature of poverty, focusing on trends in poverty, income inequality, & mobility, & the role of demographic & economic change. US poverty & antipoverty policy are compared to those of other industrial nations. The evolution of understanding underpinning policies designed to ameliorate poverty is examined, highlighting cash & similar transfers, welfare policy, low-income health care provision, & educational policy. Broad social & economic processes bearing on groups, neighborhoods, & communities is explored in terms of housing discrimination & residential segregation, memberships theory & the role of group affiliation in poverty, & inner-city low-income community development. Poverty research & policy issues are touched on, highlighting the dominance of quantitative methods & need to address normative issues regarding social values; the potential for technological developments to affect discrimination; & the relevance of group differences, relationship between poverty & other socioeconomic disadvantage, childrearing practices & child well-being, & policies abroad. Throughout, suggestions for program & policy reform geared toward poverty & income inequality reduction are offered.

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