Poverty may have always been with us, but it hasn't always been the same. In an in-depth look at trends, patterns, and causes of poverty in the United States, John Iceland combines the latest statistical information, historical data, and social scientific theory to provide a comprehensive picture of poverty in America—a picture that shows how poverty is measured and understood and how this has changed over time, as well as how public policies have grappled with poverty as a political issue and an economic reality.
Why does poverty remain so pervasive? Is it unavoidable? Are people from particular racial or ethnic backgrounds or family types inevitably more likely to be poor? What can we expect over the next few years? What are the limits of policy? These are just a few of the questions this book addresses. In a remarkably concise, readable, and accessible format, Iceland explores what the statistics and the historical record, along with most of the major works on poverty, tell us. At the same time, he advances arguments about the relative nature and structural causes of poverty—arguments that eloquently contest conventional wisdom about the links between individual failure, family breakdown, and poverty in America. At a time when the personal, political, social, and broader economic consequences of poverty are ever clearer and more pressing, the depth and breadth of understanding offered by this handbook should make it an essential resource and reference for all scholars, politicians, policymakers, and people of conscience in America.
List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface to the 2012 Edition
2. Early Views of Poverty in America
3. Methods of Measuring Poverty
4. Characteristics of the Poverty Population
5. Causes of Poverty
6. Why Poverty Remains High, Revisited
7. Poverty and Policy
Appendix: Data and Methods for the Analysis in Chapter 6
John Icelandis Professor of Sociology and Demography and a Research Associate in the Population Research Institute at Penn State University and former Branch Chief, Poverty and Health Statistics Branch, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, U. S. Census Bureau. Hi is the author of Where We Live Now, UC Press).
"An excellent overview of the dimensions and sources of American poverty. John Iceland combines statistical data, theoretical arguments, and historical information in a book that is highly readable."—William Julius Wilson
"In just a few short pages, Iceland brings anyone--lay reader, student, professional researcher--up to speed on the major issues and debates about poverty in America. With succinct and engaging prose, Poverty in America covers the gamut--from theoretical issues to measurement to history to public policy--better than any other book out there right now."—Dalton Conley, author of Honky
"Must reading on a tough and important topic. With some answers that may surprise, Iceland sorts out competing theories of why people are poor in the richest country in the world. His book should motivate every reader--policy maker, researcher, citizen-- to think hard about what it means to be poor today and how our society can best reduce the hardship and poverty still with us."—Constance F. Citro, National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington, D.C.