- Series Information
- The Oxford Handbook of The Economics of Poverty
- Introduction and Overview
- The Alleviation of Poverty: How Far Have We Come?
- Consumption and Income Poverty in the United States
- Poverty Lines across the World
- Theories of Poverty: Traditional Explanations and New Directions
- Poverty and the Labor Market
- Employment in Black Urban Labor Markets: Problems and Solutions
- Low-Skilled Immigrants and the US Labor Market
- Poverty and Low Earnings in the Developing World
- Antipoverty Programs for Poor Children and Families
- Education and the Poor
- Poverty, Health, and Healthcare
- Geographical Price Variation, Housing Assistance, and Poverty
- Distributions in Motion: Economic Growth, Inequality, and Poverty Dynamics
- Is Poverty Incompatible with Asset Accumulation?
- Poverty Transitions
- Macroeconomic Fluctuations and Poverty
- Obesity, Poverty, and the Ability to Pay for Calories
- Environmental Justice: Do Poor and Minority Populations Face More Hazards?
- Female Trust in Government and Gender Income Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Crime, Incarceration, and Poverty
- Payday Lending: New Research and the Big Question
- An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Antipoverty Programs in the United States
- Are Economists in Over Their Heads?
- Antipoverty Policy: The Role of Individualist and Structural Perspectives
- A New Statistic: The US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure
Abstract and Keywords
This article examines how views on why people are poor can influence the design of antipoverty policy. It argues that, broadly speaking, theories of why people are poor fall into two categories. First, there are theories grounded in the view that the poor suffer from individual defects: inadequate human capital, self-defeating culture, and genetic inferiority. Second, there are theories grounded in the view that the poor are especially vulnerable to societal defects: unemployment, overpopulation, and obstacles to wealth accumulation. The persistence of high levels of poverty in the United States is the result of policies that follow from the perspective that the poor suffer from individual defects. The current path of antipoverty policy is likely to perpetuate poverty and the sentiment that the poor are deserving of their status.
William A. Darity, Jr., is the Arts and Sciences Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University.
Mary Lopez is an assistant professor of economics at Occidental College.
Olugbenga Ajilore is an associate professor of economics at the University of Toledo.
Leslie Wallace is a professor of economics at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.