Unformatted text preview: Why Are People Poor Why In Rich America? The Poverty Population The is very Diverse is
The Causes of Poverty are The Causes of Poverty are different for the various groups that make up the poor. The poor includes the elderly, single mothers, employed women and men, often heads of families, farm workers, the disabled, and the homeless. The reasons they are poor is diverse. The poor are also spread across the nation: they live in all regions and they live in urban, suburban and rural communities. Many theories about the causes of poverty focus on one group of the poor, often either homeless people or people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol. American poor tend not to be impoverished for really long periods. Poverty spells generally last less than a year, often much shorter periods. Most of the poor do not receive any type of cash welfare. Most of the poor are poor for too short a period to even apply for cash welfare. Most who receive cash welfare are on the rolls a short time. About 20 percent of cash welfare recipients are long term. Two Basic Theories of the Causes of Poverty Causes I. Cultural/behavioral II. Structural/Economic Cultural/Behavioral theories make the case that the only real cause of poverty is the behavior, values, and culture of the poor. Structural/economic theories usually contain some behavioral component, but argue that the precipitating cause of poverty is a lack of equal opportunity for all Americans. Structural/Behavioral theories point to unfair or unequal economic opportunities, inadequate educational systems, lack of political power, sometimes racial and sexual discrimination. Conservatives favor cultural/behavioral arguments, while moderate and liberals usually stress structural/economic explanations that contain a behavioral component. A popular conservative theory—Myron Magnet Writer for the Manhattan Institute Magnet: People become poor not because they lack social, political, and economic opportunities, but because they lack the inner resources to seize the ample opportunities that surround them. Poverty is basically a destitution of the soul. The poor have failed society’s function of soulcraft. The poor represent those who have not learned or who reject mainstream values. Magnet: An individual’s values and behavior determines his/her opportunities, economic or otherwise. A Few Other Behavioral Theories: A. Behavioral Theories: Popular With Conservatives 1. The poor are the underclass 2. Charles Murray – Welfare is the cause cause 3. Lawrence Mead - poorly designed 3. welfare programs and cultural factors factors 4. Katz - the role of welfare in 4. sustaining poverty sustaining 5. James Payne - expectant giving. Structural/Economic Structural/Economic Theories: Popular with Moderates and Structural/Economic Liberals Liberals 1. William J. Wilson Migration of black Americans to inner cities. Changes in the employment market of inner cities Changes (skills mismatch/spatial mismatch) (skills Impact of idleness on inner-city men, women and Impact welfare use welfare Impact of civil rights laws (selective out-migration) The Contagion Effect The evidence on this theory Wilson in “More Than Just Race” focuses on why young black men suffer high rates of unemployment and underemployment. He argues that the answers are structural. The underlying cause he believes is the lack of quality schools for so many young black people Yet Wilson’s data show that young black women are more successful in schools and universities than young black men. Why do young black men often struggle in school. Wilson examines Patterson’s Cool Pose Culture argument Wilson then turns to why the unemployment rate is so high for black men. One barrier is the high rate of criminal backgrounds for black males. Physical and social isolation from work Change in types of jobs—must relate to consumers Wage reservations Subculture of defeatism The issues Wilson deals with relate primarily to the changes that have taken place in the types of jobs our society offers, where they are, and the skills one has to have to obtain those jobs. 2. Cornel West 2. Cornel West The decline of innercity jobs A history of racism and impact on black Americans (xenophobia, sexism, homophobia) Racial reasoning A culture that stresses materialism A lack of quality black leadership Solution: Moral reasoning which would produce coalition strategies and black cultural democracy. 3. James Tobin 3. a. There is a relationship between the health of the economy and the poverty rate. b. However, a healthy economy does not work as well today because: Many people lack the skills required by our increasingly sophisticated economy Many good jobs are outside the central cities Fringes hold down wages Changes in welfare population What do the theories tell us about poverty and welfare reform? Poverty is not a single problem The economy is important, but so is behavior and culture Opportunity is not equal Some people will need more than one chance. May not be able to help everyone. ...
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- Spring '09
- Poverty, young Black men, William J. Wilson, long periods. Poverty