Poverty is changing (not diminishing), and so must anti-poverty policy

lbj-and-fletcher520Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty was based on a reality that no longer exists. Globalization has increased economic inequality, welfare reform has imposed a punitive and paternalistic “personal responsibility” culture, and demographics have shifted (e.g., suburbia). An edited volume called “Changing Poverty,” emanating from the La Follette School at the University of Wisconson-Madison and the Gerald Ford School at the University of Michigan, goes on sale in August–but the juicy research summary and some specific anti-poverty policy recommendations, are available now.

The policy recommendations fall under three categories: “making work pay, helping parents balance work and family responsibilities, and raising the educational attainment of disadvantaged children.” Here is an excerpt from the “Changing role of race and ethnicity” section, which captures the regional equity theme that keeps coming up at The Springfield Institute: 

“Another factor that has negatively affected the employment prospects of minority workers who are residentially concentrated in central cities is the movement of jobs from central cities to suburbs and the rapid expansion of employment outside of central cities in the last quarter of the twentieth century (Stoll and Raphael 2000). Moreover, some employers relocated their firms from the central cities to the suburbs in reaction to the “browning” of central cities. That is, the spatial mismatch between minority workers and jobs reflects both technological changes that made suburban location for some firms more efficient, and racially motivated relocations by firms seeking a ‘whiter’ workforce (Holzer 1996; Stoll 2006). “

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