Vonnie C. McLoyd, Rosanne M. Jocson, and Abigail B. Williams
This article examines the effects and mediators of childhood poverty, with particular emphasis on the confluence of forces that gave rise to these foci and perspectives. It first considers macroeconomic trends as a context for the study of childhood poverty in the United States, followed by a review of developments that directed attention to the dynamics and context of childhood poverty as research topics, along with a summary of the findings generated by this research. It then discusses perspectives that have emerged about processes that mediate links between poverty and child development, including the social causation and social selection perspectives, as well as the applicability of these perspectives for understanding the effects of poverty on children living in developing countries. Finally, it assesses the role of poverty in maternal and child mental health and the influence of parenting practices and investments on child development.
This article examines the history of poverty research and the evolution of the practice of gathering knowledge about the poor. It distinguishes between poverty research and poverty knowledge, suggesting that the convergence of the two was a historically specific development that first began to gain wide currency in the late nineteenth century in response to the vast and increasingly visible disparities of industrial capitalism in Western Europe and the United States. It also situates poverty research within the politics and social organization of knowledge and considers the influence of broader contextual factors, such as the creation, expansion, and subsequent restructuring of welfare states in Western industrial democracies; the geopolitical imperatives of empire, decolonization, and the Cold War; and the official declaration of the War on Poverty in the 1960s. Finally, it explores how poverty knowledge was reshaped by the economic, political, and ideological transformations associated with the rise of neoliberalism.
Timothy M. Smeeding
This article focuses on the complexities and idiosyncrasies of poverty measurement, from its origins to current practice. It first considers various concepts of poverty and their measurement and how economists, social statisticians, public policy scholars, sociologists, and other social scientists have contributed to this literature. It then discusses a few empirical estimates of poverty across and within nations, drawing primarily on data from the Luxembourg Income Study and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to highlight levels and trends in overall poverty, while also referring to the World Bank’s measures of global absolute poverty. In the empirical examinations, the article takes a look at rich and middle-income countries and some developing nations. It compares trends in relative poverty over different time periods and in relative and anchored poverty across the Great Recession.