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Sociology Poverty
by
David Brady

Introduction

The sociology of poverty focuses on the nature, causes, and consequences of poverty. Sociologists have explored why poverty varies across countries, across urban and rural places, and over time. Sociologists have also examined why some individuals are poor, scrutinizing the characteristics that differentiate the poor from nonpoor and that describe the experience of poverty. This is truly a multimethod field, with equally influential traditions utilizing ethnography and intensive interviews, as well as sophisticated statistics. Poverty sociologists have linked the consequences of poverty with a myriad of social domains, ranging from education to employment to health. In addition, poverty sociologists anchor the roots of poverty in workplaces, families, neighborhoods, and politics. As a result, the sociology of poverty is a very heterogeneous field. There are even disconnections between some subfields, and there has been little attempt to identify the common themes across subfields. Partly, this results because the majority of the sociology of poverty concentrates on the urban United States. The study of poverty in other affluent democracies and research on the developing world often operate as separate areas. Nevertheless, one can discern a common (albeit loose) theoretical orientation that poverty is the result of the structures and institutions of society, as opposed to the deficiencies of individuals. This orientation has often been debated within sociology, reflecting the discipline’s debates about structure and agency more broadly. Sociology has seemingly always had some interest in poverty, such as in the early Chicago school’s interests in urbanization, industrialization, immigration, and neighborhoods. The classic figures of sociology like Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, Georg Simmel, and Auguste Comte did not write much about poverty; however, concern with poverty exists in the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In recent decades, sociological poverty research has probably been most active among those studying race and cities in the United States and among those examining cross-national differences in welfare states. In the 2010s and 2020s, it is likely there will be growing pressure to shift sociological attention away from so disproportionately studying urban poverty in the United States. Also, there is growing interest in unifying the sociologies of poverty and paying more attention to poverty in the developing world—where the overwhelming majority of poor people reside. Hence, this bibliography tries to straddle the dual goals of reviewing the main literatures in the field as it exists and seeking to identify frontier directions for emerging research.

Data Sources

There is a great deal of data available on poverty. Though historically publicly available datasets are typically quantitative, there is an increasing availability of qualitative and multimethod datasets. One tradition utilizes individual-level data in the United States. Within this tradition, probably the most common approach is to longitudinally or cross-sectionally examine the background and characteristics of the poor in comparison to the nonpoor. Perhaps the most used longitudinal quantitative datasets is the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, commonly known as the PSID. One multimethod longitudinal panel dataset of children and unmarried parents that has been very productively utilized in recent years is The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. Another popular multimethod dataset is Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study, which was an intensive study of Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio on the well-being of low-income children and families after the 1996 US welfare reform. Perhaps the leading international dataset for poverty research is the LIS, previously known as the LIS, which contains harmonized income microdata from over thirty-five countries at multiple points in time. For developing countries, one of the most promising datastets is the Demographic and Health Surveys, which provides individual-level survey data on several dozen developing countries, often at multiple points in time.

  • Demographic and Health Surveys.

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    Individual-level survey data on several dozen developing countries, often at multiple points in time. Contains information on health (including HIV infection for some countries), family, and population variables alongside some measures of wealth, assets, and economic resources. Datasets are organized into samples of households, male and female adults, and children.

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    • The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study.

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      Multimethod longitudinal panel of nearly five thousand children born in US cities between 1998 and 2000—about three-quarters of which were born to unmarried parents. Focuses on unmarried parenting and considers relationships, child well-being, welfare, and work. Interviews are conducted at birth and at ages one, three, and five years.

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      • LIS Cross-National Data Center.

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        Archive of standardized and harmonized income and wealth microdata from over thirty-five countries at multiple points in time. Archive contains nationally representative individual- and household-level samples on labor market and demographic variables. Features set of standardized income variables allowing for precise estimation of inequality and poverty.

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        • Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

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          Nationally representative panel study of almost ten thousand US families. It has followed the same families and individuals since 1968, contains oversamples of low-income families and racial/ethnic minorities, and is typically conducted biannually. Contains rich detail on economic resources and behavior, health, family, and other characteristics of households and individuals.

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          • Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study.

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            Multimethod study of Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio on the well-being of low-income children and families. Examined how 1996 US welfare reform affected poor families. Began in 1999 and contains longitudinal surveys (in 1999, 2001, and 2005), embedded developmental studies (in 1999 and 2001), and contextual/comparative ethnographic studies.

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            History of the Field

            A number of insightful studies have been done on the history of knowledge and social science of poverty. This literature generally takes a critical perspective while acknowledging the real contributions made in the field. This literature also makes arguments for redirecting and reorienting poverty research. Michael Katz 1989 and others’ arguments about the undeserving poor have been particularly influential in the field. Though probably not the first to call attention to the moral distinctions that public and scholarly discourse draws between the poor, his account has served as inspiration for the scholarly commentary about how poverty research is done. Gans 1995 is a more specific response to the outpouring of research on the “urban underclass” in the United States in the 1980s. He also revisits a classic essay he wrote on the “positive functions” of poverty while encouraging scholars to pay more attention to structures and institutions. O’Connor 2001 and Schram 2002 provide more recent accounts and take the discussion into the 1990s. Schram 2002 advocates for a more publicly engaged poverty scholarship that takes inspiration from France’s Fox Piven and Richard Cloward. Piven and Cloward authored such famous books as Regulating the Poor (New York: Pantheon, 1971) and Poor People’s Movements (New York: Pantheon, 1977) and had a great deal of influence on poverty scholarship in and after the 1970s. O’Connor 2001 scrutinizes poverty research for its failings and meticulously shows how poverty knowledge reflects and reinforces American political ideologies. Despite the clear contributions of the history of poverty research, this literature has been focused on US poverty research; it does not typically engage with research on poverty in other countries and tends to neglect poverty in developing countries.

            • Gans, Herbert. 1995. The war against the poor: The underclass and antipoverty policy. New York: Basic Books.

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              One of the most provocative students of poverty. Written as a response to what he viewed as problematic tendencies in the research and discourse on the “urban underclass” that shaped poverty debates in the 1980s and early 1990s. He also revisits his classic argument that the poor serve functional purposes for broader society.

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            • Katz, Michael B. 1989. The undeserving poor: From the war on poverty to the war on welfare. New York: Pantheon.

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              Engaging and accessible account of public and academic thinking and discourse on poverty. Detailed chapters on President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty and other episodes in policymaking. Provides useful demonstration of how perceptions of moral deservingness have been a key ideological influence on poverty policy and knowledge.

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            • O’Connor, Alice. 2001. Poverty knowledge: Social science, social policy, and the poor in twentieth-century U.S. history. Politics and society in twentieth-century America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Definitive account of poverty knowledge from Victorian England through the Clinton welfare reform. Richly detailed with archival research and interviews of poverty experts. She insightfully criticizes the field for overly emphasizing the individual characteristics of the poor and neglecting structural and institutional sources of poverty.

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            • Schram, Sanford F. 2002. Praxis for the poor: Piven and Cloward and the future of social science in social welfare. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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              Public intellectual discussion with leading currents in poverty research from perspective of scholar who has spent time in the fields of social work, political science and sociology. Encourages a pragmatist ethic for poverty scholars inspired by the work of Piven and Cloward and Jane Adams.

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            Classic Works

            Poverty research seems to have existed throughout history but perhaps picked up momentum in the 19th century. Also, there are many great journalistic and scholarly accounts of poverty from the early 20th century. At least since World War II, there has been no shortage of great books on poverty in the United States. Partly because of the persistence of poverty in that country, there is much to learn from revisiting classics from the 1950s and1960s. Galbraith 1998 (originally published in 1958) was one of the first to highlight how it was a mistake to presume that the rising affluence of the post–World War II era would necessarily lead to less poverty. He devoted only a small part of his book to the poor, but his general critique of the continuing exclusion of the poor from the benefits of rising affluence was foundational. Harrington 1981 (originally published in 1962) followed soon after while making similar arguments with more precision and with detailed case studies of the elderly, agricultural workers, the inner-city poor, and others. He theorized the “culture of poverty,” but this term meant something very different from contemporary understandings, and he was focused on the structural sources of poverty. Gordon 1972 was at the front of a group of economists that questioned the prevailing conventional wisdom in the field of economics. He systematized and critiqued leading mainstream and radical theories of poverty while demonstrating the utility of dual labor market theory. Stack 1997 (originally published in 1974) powerfully demonstrated how the poor made ends meet by utilizing social networks and kin and how the poor actually experienced material deprivation. Her book was the most important piece of anthropological scholarship on poverty for decades and has driven a great deal of interest in the study of poor people’s families, work, and daily lives.

            • Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1998. The affluent society. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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              Public intellectual study of rising affluence in post–World War II US society. Critiques the conventional wisdom and mainstream thinking about the universal benefits of economic growth. Chapter at end of book emphasized relative aspects of poverty in rich countries. Originally published in 1958.

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            • Gordon, David M. 1972. Theories of poverty and underemployment: Orthodox, radical, and dual labor market perspectives. Lexington, MA: Lexington.

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              Helpful and thorough text explaining the propositions and implications of contending theories of poverty and unemployment. Considers both mainstream economic and more critical perspectives. Useful summary of dual labor market theory.

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            • Harrington, Michael. 1981. The other America: Poverty in the United States. New York: Penguin.

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              Vivid study of poverty in many places and groups of US society, ranging from farms, inner cities, and among the elderly. Journalistic and ethnographic description alongside commentary and arguments about the nature and causes of poverty. Particularly important in shaping the thinking of policymakers in the 1960s. Originally published in 1962.

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            • Stack, Carol B. 1997. All our kin. New York: Basic Books.

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              Important and classic ethnography of African American poverty. One of the first to demonstrate how poor families make ends meet. Persuasively shows the utility of social networks and family in providing help to fellow kin. Shows the importance of relationships between partners, parents and children, and intergenerationally. Originally published in 1974.

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            Conceptualization and Measurement

            In 1995, the National Research Council (NRC) published a long-awaited review of the official US measure of poverty (Citro and Michael 1995). The review was the culmination of a growing dissatisfaction with the official US measure and an increasing acknowledgement of its limitations. The NRC proposed a quasi-relative alternative measure that was based on consumption data. The alternative has not been widely adopted, partly because of practical data constraints. Nevertheless, it is now widely understood that the official US measure is deeply flawed. Indeed, Iceland 2005 revisits Citro and Michael’s 1995 discussion of the problems with the official measure and favorably evaluates this quasi-relative alternative measure. At the same time that frustration with the official measure was growing, international researchers were making real strides in advancing poverty measurement. The LIS was the source of much of this innovation as scholars were building an archive of international income and poverty data. Rainwater and Smeeding 2003 provides an excellent and detailed account of the leading practices in international poverty research. DeFina and Thanawala 2003 illustrates just how consequential these advances are to an accurate measurement of poverty. Scholars have also made progress in measuring poverty in the developing world, and Krishna 2010 shows how this is the setting for some of the most promising innovations in poverty measurements, including longitudinal and community-contextualized information. In the first decades of the twenty-first century, the European Union made much more progress in measuring poverty and in implementing this progress in governments. Nolan and Whelan 2010 shows the value of material deprivation measures that are distinct from and complementary to income poverty measures. Finally, though advances in measurement often occurred with advances in conceptualization, there has also been a valuable literature concentrating on theoretically defining poverty. This literature puzzles over what it means to be poor. One of the leading conceptualizations has been Sen 1999’s definition of poverty as capability deprivation. Perhaps even more important has been the literature on social exclusion that grew out of poverty scholarship in Europe. Silver 1994 offers a masterly review of that literature, while recounting the theoretical origins and contributions of social exclusion.

            • Citro, Constance, and Robert T. Michael. 1995. Measuring poverty: A new approach. Washington, DC: National Academy.

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              The NRC’s scientific review of the official US measure of poverty. Argues official measure should be abandoned. Itemizes the many problems with the measure and proposes an alternative measure based on common standards of consumption and relative deprivation in terms of income.

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            • DeFina, Robert H., and Kishor Thanawala. 2003. International evidence on the impact of taxes and transfers on alternative poverty indexes. Social Science Research 33.2: 322–338.

              DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2003.07.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Building on LIS and scholars like Rainwater and Smeeding, authors show how essential it is to incorporate taxes and transfers into estimates of household income, and how this matters to different poverty measures. Available online for purchase.

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            • Iceland, John. 2005. Measuring poverty: Theoretical and empirical considerations. Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research & Perspective 3.4: 199–235.

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              Overview of what was learned from and since the 1995 NRC report. Revisits problems with official US measure of poverty and discusses alternatives being used in international poverty research. Shows empirical patterns with official and quasi-relative NRC alternative and advocates for NRC alternative measure. Available online for purchase.

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            • Krishna, Anirudh. 2010. Who became poor, who escaped poverty, and why? Developing and using a retrospective methodology in five countries. In Special issue: Special issue on poverty measurement. Edited by Kenneth Couch and Maureen A. Pirog. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 29.2: 351–372.

              DOI: 10.1002/pam.20495Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Innovative analysis of poverty in India, Kenya, Uganda, Peru, and the United States. Focuses on community involvement in gathering longitudinal information on the descents and escapes from poverty. Defines poverty relative to local contextual norms.

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            • Nolan, Brian, and Christopher T. Whelan. 2010. Using non-monetary deprivation indicators to analyze poverty and social exclusion: Lessons from Europe? In Special issue: Special issue on poverty measurement. Edited by Kenneth Couch and Maureen A. Pirog. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 29.2: 305–325.

              DOI: 10.1002/pam.20493Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              The authors analyze data from the European Union’s Standard of Income and Living Conditions survey to show how material deprivation differs and relates to income poverty. Provides an effective illustration of the value of studying deprivation in terms of assets, living standards, and consumption.

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            • Rainwater, Lee, and Timothy M. Smeeding. 2003. Poor kids in a rich country: America’s children in comparative perspective. New York: Russell Sage.

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              Study of child poverty across affluent democracies and in the United States. Demonstrates US rates are unusually high and how this is due to work, family and social policy. Provides thorough and useful state-of-the-art discussion of all important details in poverty measurement. Persuasively advocates for a relative income poverty measure.

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            • Sen, Amartya. 1999. Poverty as capability deprivation. In Development as freedom. By Amartya Sen, 87–110. New York: Anchor.

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              Concise statement of capability-deprivation approach to poverty by acclaimed international economist. Shows how capability is different from income but can be measured as relative income deprivation in rich countries. Argues the core of poverty is the ability to lead a life of one’s choosing.

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            • Silver, Hilary. 1994. Social exclusion and social solidarity: Three paradigms. International Labour Review 133:531–578.

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              Exhaustive review of various conceptualizations of social exclusion. Traces historical origins in various discourses on concept and shows how it is being implemented in poverty measurement. Convincingly explains why social exclusion is a useful perspective on poverty.

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            Urban Poverty

            American poverty research in sociology has been dominated by debates about concentrated urban poverty since the early 1990s. Though scholars had studied slums and “ghettos” for more than a century, Wilson 1987 sparked enormous interest in the declining state of inner-city neighborhoods. The debates following his book have been the central concern of contemporary poverty researchers. Though his book has been tremendously influential, it was controversial from the start. One of the more important criticisms came from Massey and Denton 1993 in emphasizing the salience of residential segregation. Debates over inner-city poverty have reverberated into other fields, and those fields have reflected influence back on sociology. One example of this is the exemplary historical study of the decline of Detroit by Sugrue 1996. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, sociologists conducted a wide variety of assessments of Wilson 1987 and Massey and Denton 1993’s claims, including demonstrating how urban poverty changed in the 1990s and 2000s. Harding 2003 provides a rigorous analysis of the “neighborhood effects” of concentrated poverty, while Crowder and South 2005 scrutinizes the demographic and residential changes to urban neighborhoods. Scholars have also pushed the debate forward by offering novel concepts about urban poverty, like “collective efficacy” by Sampson and Morenoff 2006. More recently, Sharkey 2008 shows the intergenerational dimensions of urban poverty, and Venkatesh 2006 provides a compelling example of the rich and prolific ethnographic literature on the experience of urban poverty.

            • Crowder, Kyle, and Scott J. South. 2005. Race, class, and changing patterns of migration between poor and nonpoor neighborhoods. American Journal of Sociology 110.6: 1715–1763.

              DOI: 10.1086/428686Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Updates and extends debates from Wilson 1987 and Massey and Denton 1993 on how migration by race and class have shaped neighborhood poverty and segregation. Provides support for both accounts, vindicates Wilson against some critics, and illustrates the role of gentrification and other post-1990 changes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Harding, David J. 2003. Counterfactual models of neighborhood effects: The effect of neighborhood poverty on dropping out and teenage pregnancy. American Journal of Sociology 109.3: 676–719.

              DOI: 10.1086/379217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Innovative propensity score-matching analysis of the effects of neighborhood poverty on child outcomes. Effectively reviews strengths and weakness of previous research on the causal effects of neighborhood poverty and empirically demonstrates powerful effects. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Massey, Douglas, and Nancy Denton. 1993. American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Persuasive and comprehensive study of residential segregation and how this interacts with economic conditions to generate urban poverty. Highlights how racial discrimination and institutionalized racism in policy maintain segregation at high levels. Argues that Wilson emphasizes the wrong sources of urban poverty and neglects the role of contemporary racism.

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            • Sampson, Robert J., and Jeffrey D. Morenoff. 2006. Durable inequality: Spatial dynamics, social processes, and the persistence of poverty in Chicago neighborhoods. In Poverty traps. Edited by Samuel Bowles, Steven N. Durlauf, and Karla Ruth Hoff, 176–203. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Recent study of collective efficacy and poverty in Chicago neighborhoods. The concept of collective efficacy deepens sociological understanding of how poor neighborhoods are disadvantaged and why this matters in terms of life chances.

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            • Sharkey, Patrick. 2008. The intergenerational transmission of context. American Journal of Sociology 113.4: 931–969.

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              Creative and original study of the odds that residents of poor neighborhoods have inherited such living conditions from parents. Unites neighborhood poverty research with long-standing sociological interest in the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. Shows substantial heritability of neighborhood disadvantage. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Sugrue, Thomas J. 1996. The origins of the urban crisis: Race and inequality in postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Masterful historical narrative of the decline of Detroit. Integrates the role of race, class, economic change, politics, and social policy and how it drove the concentration of urban poverty and the broader decline of the city. Informed by and informs sociological debates.

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            • Venkatesh, Sudhir A. 2006. Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Compelling ethnography of informal economy and social relations in poor neighborhoods. Examines criminal and informal economic activity of many different kinds of workers and how the formal economy is interwoven with the informal economy. Rich ethnographic account of inner-city poverty.

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            • Wilson, William Julius. 1987. The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Incredibly influential statement on the sources and nature of urban poverty. Based on empirical analyses of Chicago neighborhoods from the 1960s to the 1980s, argues that concentrated disadvantage is the result of the decline of manufacturing employment, historical racism, the loss of jobs, and the outmigration of the Black middle class.

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            Rural Poverty

            There has been much less research on urban poverty than rural poverty in sociology, even though many of the US poor reside in rural settings. This is also notable given that US sociology very productively studied rural poverty before and during the Great Depression and given that rural poverty was a concern of classic scholars like Michael Harrington. Scholars of rural poverty tend to focus on the limited economic opportunities and the social isolation of rural settings (Tickamyer and Duncan 1990). Several studies have been done of rural communities with concentrated poverty, like Appalachia, such as Duncan 1999’s three-site comparison of rural poverty. Sherman 2009 builds on these traditions of rural poverty research while also bringing culture back in by highlighting the perceptions of morality of residents of these communities. Altogether, sociologists of rural poverty share some similar concerns with economic opportunity and social isolation with sociologists of urban poverty. Operating as a rather separate field, there has always been concern with the rural poor in developing countries as well. In an influential essay, Bebbington 1999 provides an influential theoretical perspective.

            • Bebbington, Anthony. 1999. Capitals and capabilities: A framework for analyzing peasant viability, rural livelihoods and poverty. World Development 27.12: 2021–2044.

              DOI: 10.1016/S0305-750X(99)00104-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Based on studies of Latin America, proposes analytical framework for understanding rural poverty in terms of sustainability and access to five types of capital assets. Particular attention paid to social capital. Available online for purchase.

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            • Duncan, Cynthia M. 1999. Worlds apart: Why poverty persists in rural America. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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              Examination of rural poverty in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, and New England. Explains rural poverty as outcome of local system of inequality and shows how mobility out of poverty is comparatively more likely in New England.

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            • Sherman, Jennifer. 2009. Those who work, those who don’t: Poverty, morality and family in rural America. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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              Ethnographic fieldwork and intensive interview study of poverty in logging community in northern California. Analyzes perceptions of morality of the poor by others and themselves. Argues rural residents’ emphasis on morality is an understandable response to political and economic constraints and downward mobility.

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            • Tickamyer, Ann R., and Cynthia M. Duncan. 1990. Poverty and opportunity structure in rural America. Annual Review of Sociology 16:67–86.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.16.080190.000435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Review essay of rural poverty in the United States. Links rural poverty to limited opportunity structures for employment and mobility and to social and spatial isolation. Also highlights historical roots of rural poverty. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            Developing Countries

            This subfield has existed as a somewhat separate area of inquiry within sociology—generally considered within the sociology of development. In turn, the driving concerns of the field have been slightly different. Particularly important to this field has been debating the effects of economic growth on developing countries. This field has recently been animated by debates about whether increasing international openness, trade, and investment—commonly known as globalization—have helped or hindered the poor in developing countries. Closely linked to those debates have been many studies scrutinizing the effects of foreign aid and international institutions on poverty. Though there is an extensive literature on social policy and welfare states in the rich democracies, a small literature has examined the effects of state policy in developing countries. Because many of the world’s poor live in countries that have historically been rural but are rapidly becoming urban, the processes of urbanization has received much attention as well.

            Economic Development and Well-Being

            Like development studies generally, economic growth has been a dominant concern of scholars of poverty in developing countries. This is partly because of the prevailing presumption that growth is essential to reducing poverty in developing countries. As a way to assess the benefits of growth, scholars in this area commonly examine health and well-being as key dimensions of poverty. In analyses of developing countries from the 1960s to 1980s, Firebaugh and Beck 1994 shows that economic growth lifts basic well-being in developing countries more than any other factor. Outside but relevant to sociology, development economists have also placed great emphasis on economic growth. The influential book by Collier 2007 stresses that economic growth is essential for reducing poverty in developing countries and that economic growth is best enhanced by avoiding poverty traps like war and reliance on natural resources. The prioritization on economic growth has also been a source of debate, and many have demonstrated that economic growth is an imperfect and uneven solution to poverty in developing countries. Brady, et al. 2007 shows that economic growth became less effective in the 1990s and 2000s in improving well-being and that declining fertility, urbanization, and expanding education are more effective than growth. These sorts of studies have been fueled in part by the work of Amartya Sen. In his unifying public intellectual book, Sen 1999, he emphasizes the role of political freedoms, education, gender equality, and a host of other “capabilities” in alleviating poverty in developing countries. In sociology, Sen 1999’s work has manifested in studies of hunger in developing countries, which tend to emphasize that food security is more dependent on distribution and politics than on food supply (Jenkins and Scanlan 2001). Also, scholars have shown on a micro level that health and well-being are important sources of poverty as much as they are outcomes of poverty. For instance, Krishna 2010 demonstrates that descents into and escapes from poverty are triggered by asymmetric causes, with descents mainly caused by illness.

            • Brady, David, Yunus Kaya, and Jason Beckfield. 2007. Reassessing the effect of economic growth on well-being in less-developed countries, 1980–2003. Studies in Comparative International Development 42.1–2: 1–35.

              DOI: 10.1007/s12116-007-9003-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Cross-national macro-level analysis of 109 developing countries across six time points from 1980 to 2003. Shows that economic growth has become less effective over time at improving well-being and that fertility, education, and urbanization are more important. Revisits and extends Firebaugh and Beck 1994. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Collier, Paul. 2007. The bottom billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Synthetic summary of series of empirical articles with broader reflections on poverty traps faced by developing countries. Emphasizes essential role of economic growth in reducing poverty while highlighting the role of wars, natural resources, being landlocked, and bad governance.

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            • Firebaugh, Glenn, and Frank D. Beck. 1994. Does economic growth benefit the masses? Growth, dependence, and welfare in the Third World. American Sociological Review 59:631–653.

              DOI: 10.2307/2096441Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Cross-national macro-level analysis of sixty-two developing countries from the 1960s to the 1980s. Shows robust significant positive effect of economic growth on four measures of well-being. Demonstrates that economic growth is more powerful than any deleterious effect of dependency.

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            • Jenkins, J. Craig, and Stephen J. Scanlan. 2001. Food security in less developed countries, 1970 to 1990. American Sociological Review 66:718–744.

              DOI: 10.2307/3088955Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Panel analysis of developing countries from 1960s to the 1990s of food security. Demonstrates that food supply provides no guarantee from problems with food security. Instead, food security is more influenced by militarism, politics, and broader sociological dimensions of development as well as economic growth.

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            • Krishna, Anirudh. 2010. One illness away: Why people become poor and how they escape poverty. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Political scientist and public policy scholar with sociological approach to poverty and mobility in developing countries. Emphasizes longitudinal/dynamic perspective on poverty and utilizes data on several developing countries. Emphasizes asymmetric sources of descents into and escapes from poverty, including key role of health in descents.

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            • Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as freedom. New York: Anchor.

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              Public intellectual book written after winning the Nobel Prize in Economics. Sociologically minded interests in broader sets of sources of development, poverty, and well-being. Topics include democracy, famines, gender equality, and “capability deprivation.”

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            Globalization, International Institutions, and Aid

            Since 1980, there has been a worldwide expansion of international trade, investment, and migration. Scholars have sought to examine if, how, and what aspects of globalization have influenced the world’s poor. Because this globalization has been managed by international institutions, their role in global poverty has been scrutinized as has the specific effect of foreign aid. Many scholars have examined the effects of foreign aid, and Collier and Dollar 2001 provides a fairly balanced assessment of the evidence at that point. While providing a skeptical account of the benefits of globalization and international openness, Wade 2004 shows several limitations to research on economic growth and emphasizes enduring global inequalities. Bradshaw, et al. 1993 provides evidence that international financial institutions worsened poverty in developing countries. Finally, many sociologists of poverty in developing countries have been interested in the long-term historical origins of poverty that are rooted in global trade, finance, and the world system (e.g. Arrighi 2002).

            • Arrighi, Giovanni. 2002. The African crisis: World systemic and regional aspects. New Left Review 15:5–36.

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              World-systems theory influenced perspective on poverty in Africa. Emphasizes role of global finance, geopolitics, and world history in the many challenges faced by contemporary Africa.

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            • Bradshaw, York, Rita Noonan, Laura Gash, and Claudia Buchmann Sershen. 1993. Borrowing against the future: Children and Third World indebtedness. Social Forces 71.3: 629–656.

              DOI: 10.2307/2579888Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Part of an early literature examining the effects of international financial institutions on poverty and well-being in the developing world. Shows cross-sectional association between involvement of International Monetary Fund and increased child mortality. Shows the effects of the debt crisis that operated through multiple pathways to ultimately undermine child health.

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            • Collier, Paul, and David Dollar. 2001. Can the world cut poverty in half? How policy reform and effective aid can meet international development goals. World Development 29.11: 1787–1802.

              DOI: 10.1016/S0305-750X(01)00076-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Quantitative analysis on progress in reducing poverty in developing countries. Based on simulations, projects declines over next fifteen years. Concludes that effectively administered aid could make sizable impact in lagging regions. Available online for purchase.

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            • Ravallion, Martin. 2003. The debate on globalization, poverty and inequality: Why measurement matters. International Affairs 79.4: 739–753.

              DOI: 10.1111/1468-2346.00334Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Engaged commentary about state of the evidence that globalization is or is not affecting poverty in developing countries. Argues that the evidence showing benefits is quite tenuous and that most of the conclusions about globalization’s benefits for the poor are based on highly debatable measures and questionable data. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Wade, Robert Hunter. 2004. Is globalization reducing poverty and inequality? World Development 32.4: 567–589.

              DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2003.10.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Rigorous, precise, and detailed analysis of patterns in global poverty and inequality. Insightful graphical representations of poverty worldwide and the global distribution of income. Effective review of limitations of international data on income and poverty and cautious assessment of whether globalization actually helps the world’s poor. Available online for purchase.

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            Social Policy

            The study of social policy in developing countries has operated as a separate literature relative to the more extensive literatures on the welfare state and US social policy. Nevertheless, social policy remains extremely important to poverty in developing countries as well. Some important research on this topic that is relevant to sociology has occurred in developing countries. Besley and Burgess 2003 provides a useful review of that literature and shows the crucial role of effective governance. A small sociological literature has applied insights to poverty in developing countries from the cross-national literature on the politics of the welfare state. Huber, et al. 2006 demonstrates that a core claim of the cross-national literature—that welfare states reduce poverty—holds only in the more democratic of the Latin American countries. Some of the most productive literatures in this area has been linked to the international institutions working on poverty in developing countries, like the World Bank. Bebbington, et al. 2008 and Dani and de Haan 2008 provide illustrative examples of that literature.

            • Bebbington, Anthony J., Anis A. Dani, Arjan de Haan, and Michael Walton, eds. 2008. Institutional pathways to equity: Addressing inequality traps. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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              Edited volume compiled by the World Bank on “inequality traps” or obstacles to development that emanate from sustained relational inequalities. Scholars and practitioners engage in debate about causes and solutions to such inequality traps. Topics range from asset inequality, power relations in Uganda, and India’s poorest regions to indigenous politics in Bolivia and Ecuador, cash transfers for the elderly, the challenges of mineral-based development, and Spain’s development.

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            • Besley, Timothy, and Robin Burgess. 2003. Halving global poverty. Journal of Economic Perspectives 17.3: 3–22.

              DOI: 10.1257/089533003769204335Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Useful review of the state of development economics. Considers existing evidence for economic growth and other social changes in reducing poverty globally. Concludes that governance and effective state policies can make a difference but that transparency, targeting, and a lack of corruption are essential for alleviating poverty in developing countries.

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            • Dani, Anis A., and Arjan de Haan. 2008. Inclusive states: Social policy and structural inequalities. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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              Edited volume compiled by World Bank on efforts to promote inclusive social policy in developing countries. Argues that social policy must be adjusted to remedy structural inequalities that result from enduring relational inequalities in access to resources, status, and power. Provides a variety of empirical studies across the developing world.

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            • Huber, Evelyne, Francois Nielsen, Jenny Pribble, and John D. Stephens. 2006. Politics and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. American Sociological Review 71:943–963.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              One of the first macro-level quantitative analyses of the effects of politics, parties, and policies on economic inequality in Latin America. Social security and welfare spending are effective at reducing inequality only in democratic countries.

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            Urbanization

            The majority of the world’s population has shifted from rural to urban areas. This transformation is most pronounced in the developing world, where, traditionally, most of the population resided in rural settings. With the rapid urbanization of developing countries, poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in cities. This is true despite the fact that rural areas continue to be more poor and even though many of the world’s poor migrate as an economic strategy. Haddad, et al. 1999 documents this transition with cross-national and historical evidence. Ravallion and Chen 2007 shows how important urbanization has been to the noteworthy decline in poverty in China since 1980. Finally, Portes and Hoffman 2003 provides a sophisticated portrait of urban inequality and the polarization of class relations in Latin America.

            • Haddad, Lawrence, Marie T. Ruel, and James L. Garrett. 1999. Are urban poverty and undernutrition growing? Some newly assembled evidence. World Development 27.11: 1891–1904.

              DOI: 10.1016/S0305-750X(99)00093-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Compelling cross-national analyses over two decades assessing if poverty and undernutrition are increasingly located in urban settings of the developing world. Documents clear shift of poor in developing world to urban areas. Available online for purchase.

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            • Portes, Alejandro, and Kelly Hoffman. 2003. Latin American class structures: Their composition and change during the neoliberal era. Latin American Research Review 38.1: 41–82.

              DOI: 10.1353/lar.2003.0011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Provides compelling evidence of economic polarization in urban areas of Latin America. Argues that there is a rapidly growing urban informal proletariat that has emerged as a result of the urbanization of the population, decline of the public sector, and neoliberal social changes.

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            • Ravallion, Martin, and Shaohua Chen. 2007. China’s (uneven) progress against poverty. Journal of Development Economics 82.1: 1–42.

              DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2005.07.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Demonstrates that China has experienced a substantial decline in poverty since the mid-1970s. Most of this change is due to (a) progress in alleviating rural poverty and (b) the rapid movement of the rural populations to urban areas. Considers the scale and scope of progress against poverty and shows challenges of measuring poverty in this context. Available online for purchase.

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            Protest and Politics of the Poor

            For several decades, poverty scholars have debated whether the poor can actually pressure the state to redistribute resources in a more egalitarian direction. This literature grew out of the political mobilization of the 1960s and was originally quite critical of the state and the welfare state along with capitalism more broadly. In the developing world, Scott 1976 and Scott 1985 provide the definitive accounts of where, when, and why peasants resist and rebel. He highlights the role of relationships between peasants and landlords, exposes the everyday resistance that defined these relationships, and calls attention to agrarian economies as a key site of poor people’s mobilization. Others, like Walton and Ragin 1990, have studied the political mobilization of the poor in developing countries. In the process, scholars have demonstrated the importance of global political economic forces in shaping resistance and rebellion in the developing world. In the United States, many scholars considered the protest and politics of the poor after observing the successes and failures of 1960s’ social movements. The classic accounts that inspired much scholarship were two influential books by Piven and Cloward (Pivan and Cloward 1979, Pivan and Cloward 1993). They are quite skeptical of the capacity of organized groups to influence the state by operating within the formal political system. Instead, they argue that poor people’s politics only matters when it threatens and challenges the state from outside the system and creates disorder. Subsequent scholarship (e.g., Andrews 2001, Quadagno 1992) evaluated the claims of Piven and Cloward 1993 and others and generally contradicted them. Indeed, such scholars have shown that formal organizations can be quite effective and that organized mobilization within the system can lead to concrete improvements in social policy that benefit the poor. Finally, since the 1990s, scholars have begun to examine how welfare policy feeds back into the political system by shaping the political action of poor people and welfare recipients (e.g., Bruch, et al. 2010).

            • Andrews, Kenneth T. 2001. Social movements and policy implementation: The Mississippi civil rights movement and the war on poverty, 1965 to 1971. American Sociological Review 66.1: 71–95.

              DOI: 10.2307/2657394Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Multimethod study of the impact of the civil rights movement on War on Poverty funding in Mississippi. Develops “movement infrastructure” model to show how organizations, resources, and leadership account for why some counties received more government funding to reduce poverty. Challenges Piven and Cloward’s claims that movements can only trigger reaction and that participating in formal politics is unproductive.

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            • Bruch, Sarah K., Myra Marx Feree, and Joe Soss. 2010. From policy to polity: Democracy, paternalism, and the incorporation of disadvantaged citizens. American Sociological Review 75.2: 205–226.

              DOI: 10.1177/0003122410363563Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines the effect of welfare recipiency on political engagement by the poor. Differentiates between effects of targeted and universal social policy and democratic and paternalist principles and offers perspective on the feedback effects of policy on politics. Utilizes sample of low-income parents in twenty cities from the Fragile Families dataset.

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            • Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. 1979. Poor people’s movements: Why they succeed, how they fail. New York: Vintage.

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              Examination of civil rights, labor, unemployed worker, and welfare rights movements. Argues that movements are only effective when they operate outside the system and threaten elites and powerholders. Skeptical of resource mobilization theories and doubts capacities of poor challenger groups to produce real change if operating within formal political system. Provides provocative and critical theory of why/where/when poor people’s movements can affect policy.

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            • Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. 1993. Regulating the poor: The functions of public welfare. New York: Vintage.

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              Study of how state has used welfare to control the poor. Argues that welfare is expanded only in response to insurgency and disorder (in the form of protests, resistance, rebellion, and crime). Also shows how welfare is constituted to enforce a “dramaturgy of work” for the poor. Skeptical about potential for generous welfare states to fundamentally alter inegalitarianism of capitalism.

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            • Quadagno, Jill. 1992. Social movements and state transformation: Labor unions and racial conflict in the war on poverty. American Sociological Review 57:616–634.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095916Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Historical study of job-training programs in War on Poverty. Develops “state transformation” theory combining multiple perspectives of how challenger groups like organized labor and the civil rights movement influence social policy.

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            • Scott, James C. 1976. The moral economy of the peasant: Rebellion and subsistence in Southeast Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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              Classic statement on why, where, and when peasants rebel. Study based on fieldwork and historical research in Southeast Asia in 1970s. Argues that peasants’ subjective sense of being exploited by an unfair relationship with landlords triggers protest. Peasant life also shaped by national and global political economy.

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            • Scott, James. 1985. Weapons of the weak: Everyday forms of peasant resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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              Micro-level ethnographic and interview research in Malaysia on how poor resist and withdraw to express dissatisfaction with unfair economic arrangements. Links historical changes to agrarian systems to poor peasant life. Documents how poor do not passively receive ideological hegemony and how foot-dragging and small resistance reflects class consciousness.

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            • Walton, John, and Charles Ragin. 1990. Global and national sources of political protest: Third World responses to the debt crisis. American Sociological Review 55.6: 876–890.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095752Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines sources of protest against austerity policies imposed by international financial institutions on developing countries. Analyzes both presence and severity of protest. Identifies urbanization that outpaces economic development and involvement of international agencies in driving protests.

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            Ideology and Attitudes

            Many sociologists have demonstrated the role of ideology and attitudes in American poverty and social welfare policy. The underlying view has been that Americans are profoundly individualistic and guided by racialized and gendered beliefs in thinking about the poor. This ideology has probably contributed to the weak welfare state in the United States and reflects American racism and sexism. Gilens 1999 shows how deeply influential racial antipathy is in shaping American ideology about poverty and welfare. Hunt 1996 and Wilson 1996 examine survey data on American’s beliefs about the causes of poverty. Like Gilens 1999, they show race is a crucial factor, both as regards respondents’ race and their perceptions of the race of the poor. In another vein, Somers and Block 2005 argues that poverty/welfare policy debates have been historically and contemporaneously shaped by a discourse of welfare disincentives. Hicks 2006 argues that Evangelical Christianity has also been crucial to mobilizations to reform welfare and reduce the generosity of assistance to the poor. Finally, Misra, et al. 2003 and Gilens 1999 demonstrate that media images probably contribute to American ideology about poverty and welfare because media portrayals of welfare recipients are racially biased.

            • Gilens, Martin. 1999. Why Americans hate welfare: Race, media, and the politics of antipoverty policy. Studies in communication, media, and public opinion. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Rigorous and comprehensive examination of the role of racial antipathy in attitudinal opposition to welfare. Mixes thorough analyses of survey data with content analyses of media. Survey experiments provide convincing leverage on the role of race in opposition to helping the poor.

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            • Hicks, Alexander. 2006. Free-market and religious fundamentalists versus poor relief. American Sociological Review 71.3: 503–510.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100309Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Fairly positive comment and critique of Somers and Block 2005. Argues that religious mobilization (especially Evangelical Christianity) was particularly important in driving welfare reform. Provides evidence to link religion to both reform efforts and shows Evangelical Christians were key actors in both episodes.

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            • Hunt, Matthew O. 1996. The individual, society, or both? A comparison of Black, Latino, and White beliefs about the causes of poverty. Social Forces 75.1: 293–322.

              DOI: 10.2307/2580766Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Survey analysis of attitudes about what causes poverty. Rigorously examines similarities and differences across racial/ethnic groups. Demonstrates how self variables mediate relationships between structural location variables and attitudes. Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to view both individualistic and structuralist explanations for poverty as important.

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            • Misra, Joya, Stephanie Moller, and Marina Karides. 2003. Envisioning dependency: Changing media depictions of welfare in the 20th century. Social Problems 50.4: 482–504.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.2003.50.4.482Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Exhaustive content analysis of random sample of magazine articles about welfare from 1929 to 1996. Shows that role of racialized and gendered images of welfare recipients relate to depictions of dependency. Shows rise of concern with women’s dependency and decline of concern with men’s dependency over the 20th century.

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            • Somers, Margaret R., and Fred Block. 2005. From poverty to perversity: Ideas, markets and institutions over 200 years of welfare debate. American Sociological Review 70.2: 260–287.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240507000204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Historical study comparing politics and discourse of English poor laws with contemporary welfare reforms. Shows continuity in how ideas drove both reform efforts. Both episodes heavily influenced by “perversity thesis” that poor are corrupted by the disincentives of generous support programs.

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            • Somers, Margaret, and Fred Block. 2006. Reply to Hicks: Poverty and piety. American Sociological Review 71.3: 511–513.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100310Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Response to Hicks 2006. Fairly favorable comment, acknowledging role of religion but prioritizing different factors as most important in welfare reform debates and offering some caveats about Hicks’ account.

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            • Wilson, George. 1996. Toward a revised framework for examining beliefs about the causes of poverty. Sociological Quarterly 37.3: 413–428.

              DOI: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.1996.tb00746.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines attitudes about specific types of poverty: welfare dependency, homelessness, and impoverished migrant laborers. Supports “public arenas” theory, as the sources of attitudes about poverty vary by type of poverty, with welfare dependency viewed most individualistically and homelessness most structurally. Racial beliefs and perceived racial composition of type of poor are particularly important. Available online by subscription.

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            The Welfare State and Poverty Across Affluent Democracies

            Resulting partly from the availability of the LIS, there has been a surge of interest in cross-national differences in poverty and income inequality since 1990. The LIS has made it possible for scholars to conduct macro-level, cross-national, and historical comparisons and micro-level individual analyses and to incorporate state-of-the art international poverty measurement. This literature has demonstrated the centrality of the welfare state to cross-national differences in poverty and shown that the United States has much more poverty than other affluent democracies largely because of its meager welfare state (Brady 2009; Moller, et al. 2003). Scholars have also focused on particular demographic groups that are especially vulnerable to poverty such as women (Misra, et al. 2007) and children (Rainwater and Smeeding 2003). These scholars have shown how marriage and work at the individual level matter to poverty but that social policy matters in addition to and in combination with those characteristics. Further, Brady, et al. 2009 even incorporates both individual- and country-level information within multilevel models. Across these various approaches, the conclusion appears quite consistent that generous social policy is a powerful influence on poverty. This conclusion leads to the related point that much of the cross-national variation in poverty is ultimately the result of politics. In one particularly compelling and influential example, Korpi and Palme 1998 shows that universal social policy ends up being more egalitarian than targeted social policy because of the political results of the two.

            • Brady, David. 2009. Rich democracies, poor people: How politics explain poverty. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

              DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385878.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Comprehensive analysis of poverty across affluent democracies. Ranges from conceptualization and operationalization of poverty to assessment of alternative explanations, rooted in economics or structural forces, of cross-national differences in poverty. Argues that differences across affluent democracies mostly result from differences in welfare-state generosity and the politics underlying it.

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            • Brady, David, Andrew Fullerton, and Jennifer Moren Cross. 2009. Putting poverty in political context: A multi-level analysis of adult poverty across 18 affluent Western democracies. Social Forces 88.1: 271–299.

              DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Multilevel analysis of poverty across affluent democracies incorporating individual- and country-level information. Argues that poverty is best explained by power resources theory and welfare generosity. Demonstrates that individuals with identical characteristics are dramatically more likely to be poor in the United States than in more generous welfare states.

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            • Korpi, Walter, and Joakim Palme. 1998. The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the Western countries. American Sociological Review 63.5: 661–687.

              DOI: 10.2307/2657333Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Original theoretical argument about the principle that welfare states that target social policy toward the poor end up being less generous and reducing poverty less. Linked to power resources theory and feedback effects of policy on politics, demonstrates how generous universalist social policy leads to less poverty and more equality.

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            • Misra, Joya, Stephanie Moller, and Michelle J. Budig. 2007. Work–family policies and poverty for partnered and single women in Europe and North America. Gender & Society 21:804–827.

              DOI: 10.1177/0891243207308445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Precise comparisons of poverty among adult women across affluent democracies. Utilizes LIS for micro-analyses. Examines role of work–family policies in alleviating poverty among married and single women and shows differences across types of welfare states. Demonstrates how this dimension of social policy alleviates poverty among women. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Moller, Stephanie, David Bradley, Evelyne Huber, Francois Nielsen, and John D. Stephens. 2003. Determinants of relative poverty in advanced capitalist democracies. American Sociological Review 68.1: 22–51.

              DOI: 10.2307/3088901Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              One of the first analyses to incorporate over-time and cross-national data on poverty across affluent democracies. Decomposes poverty into before taxes and transfers and poverty reduction due to taxes and transfers. Shows welfare generosity is most important influence on poverty.

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            • Rainwater, Lee, and Timothy M. Smeeding. 2003. Poor kids in a rich country: America’s children in comparative perspective. Russell Sage.

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              Compelling analysis of child poverty across affluent democracies using the LIS. Masterful treatment of methodological details of measuring child poverty cross-nationally. Persuasively shows essential role of social policy while also appreciating influence of work and marriage in reducing child poverty.

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            US Welfare Programs

            Perhaps reflecting the influence of economics and public policy on sociological poverty research, many scholars have studied the incentives and disincentives of welfare programs, the effects of welfare programs, and the lives of welfare recipients. Scholars have demonstrated the beneficial and harmful consequences of welfare and have shown how welfare reflects and influences stratification within society. Blank 1997 provides a comprehensive review of what scholars know about US welfare programs. She is generally supportive of generous welfare programs, showing that both concerns over disincentives are overstated and that welfare programs are quite effective at reducing poverty. Edin and Lein 1997 investigates the lives of poor single mothers that are engaged with the welfare system. Lichter, et al. 1997 and Harris 1996 test some of the key concerns with disincentives, examining whether welfare leads to single motherhood or discourages employment. Relatedly, Reingold, et al. 2001 assess whether public housing harms the poor, finding that any consequences are simply due to concentrated poverty. Lichter and Jayakody 2002 gives a review of much of what was learned in the extensive literature evaluating welfare reform in the late 1990s. Scholars have also examined the welfare system critically for reinforcing racial hierarchies in society. Quadagno 1994 masterfully documents how race has shaped the development of the welfare state in the United States, and Schram, et al. 2009 demonstrates how race continues to influence the day-to-day administration of welfare.

            • Blank, Rebecca M. 1997. It takes a nation: A new agenda for fighting poverty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Wide-ranging and comprehensive discussion of US welfare programs that affect poverty. Very useful resource for understanding what each program does and how it works. Less useful in proposing a targeted work-based set of welfare programs for reducing poverty in the United States.

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            • Edin, Kathryn, and Laura Lein. 1997. Making ends meet: How single mothers survive welfare and low-wage work. New York: Russell Sage.

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              Intensive interview based study of how single mother welfare recipients package different sources of income along with work and public assistance. Careful consideration of tradeoffs between work, marriage, fertility, and welfare. Thorough investigation of strategies these women use to make ends meet.

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            • Harris, Kathleen Mullan. 1996. Life after welfare: Women, work and repeat dependency. American Sociological Review 61.3: 407–426.

              DOI: 10.2307/2096356Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Rational-choice argument and analyses to explain why women cycle between welfare and work. Argues that incentives drive women’s choices and shows that many women move back and forth between welfare and work. Example of study of welfare dynamics.

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            • Lichter, Daniel T., Diane K. McLaughlin, and David C. Ribar. 1997. Welfare and the rise of female-headed families. American Journal of Sociology 103.1: 112–143.

              DOI: 10.1086/231173Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              One of the few convincing sociological studies to show how welfare benefits might have a positive effect on single motherhood. Carefully considers the evidence and argues that a positive effect exists, but the effect is very small. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Lichter, Daniel T., and Rukamalie Jayakody. 2002. Welfare reform: How do we measure success? Annual Review of Sociology 28:117–141.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.110601.140845Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Review essay on what was learned after a wave of studies evaluated the 1996 welfare reform. Persuasively argues that too much attention has been paid to recipiency and dependency and not nearly enough to well-being, poverty, and mobility. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Quadagno, Jill. 1994. The color of welfare: How racism undermined the war on poverty. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Pivotal study of how racial division and racism undermined mobilization for a generous welfare state in the United States. Thoroughly examines New Deal and Great Society initiatives and documents how race constrained welfare-state development and channeled the effects of the welfare state once enacted.

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            • Reingold, David A., Gregg G. Van Ryzin, and Michelle Ronda. 2001. Does urban public housing diminish the social capital and labor force activity of its tenants? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20.3: 485–504.

              DOI: 10.1002/pam.1004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Careful examination of the effects of living in public housing on residents. Demonstrates that once one controls for concentrated poverty, which is correlated with public housing, public housing does not have deleterious effects. Fine illustration of the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality and structural equation models. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Schram, Sanford F., Joe Soss, Richard C. Fording, and Linda Houser. 2009. Deciding to discipline: Race, choice, and punishment at the frontlines of welfare reform. American Sociological Review 74.3: 398–422.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400304Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Convincing analysis of the likelihood that a welfare recipient will be sanctioned by a caseworker. Demonstrates how racial minorities are disproportionately sanctioned, using vignette experimental evidence and state archival records. Argues that new era of disciplinary welfare provision is increasingly racialized.

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            Education

            Like the sociology of education, the sociology of poverty has been concerned with how schooling is unequally distributed and socially stratified. Schooling clearly enhances the lives of poor children, with lasting effects into adulthood. But the schools poor children attend are more likely to be of a lower quality, poor children have less access to schooling, and their poverty inhibits what they attain as a result of schooling. Downey, et al. 2004 ask the age-old question of whether schools actually reduce or worsen inequalities, finding that schools are effective at reducing inequality in cognitive skills. Duncan, et al. 1998 shows that child poverty undermines the likelihood that children will complete schooling, while Guo and Harris 2000 demonstrates that poverty undermines children’s capacity to realize their potential intellectual development. Jacob and Ludwig 2009 provides a review of most of what we know about poverty and education in the United States. Saporito and Sohoni 2007 examines the geography of inequality in schooling across the United States. Beyond the United States, a number of scholars examine the links between poverty and schooling in developing countries. Similar to Nussbaum 2004, much of this research is linked to gender inequalities in schooling. Buchmann 2000 examines the role of gender, family, and social class in predicting whether children go to school in Kenya, while Hannum 2003 examines the role of those factors along with village conditions in rural China.

            • Buchmann, Claudia. 2000. Family structure, parental perceptions, and child labor in Kenya: What factors determine who is enrolled in school? Social Forces 78.4: 1349–1379.

              DOI: 10.2307/3006177Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Survey-based analyses predicting whether children go to school in mid-1990s’ Kenya. Demonstrates tradeoffs between child labor and child schooling and the role of parental decisions and family pressures in school enrollment.

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            • Downey, Douglas B., Paul T. von Hippel, and Beckett A. Broh. 2004. Are schools the great equalizer? Cognitive inequality during the summer months and the school year. American Sociological Review 69.5: 613–635.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Rigorous test of whether schooling reduces or reproduces inequality based on comparisons of whether children’s cognitive skill gains grow faster or slower during summer and while school is in session. Shows that inequality in skill gains is much smaller during school than in summer.

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            • Duncan, Greg J., W. Jean Yeung, Jeane Brooks-Gunn, and Judith R. Smith. 1998. How much does childhood poverty affect the life chances of children? American Sociological Review 63:406–423.

              DOI: 10.2307/2657556Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Convincing demonstration of the effects of family income during early and middle childhood on completion of schooling and nonmarital childbearing. Uses longitudinal data and sibling data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to show the nonlinear effects of income and that income matters most to schooling among those with lower incomes.

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            • Guo, Guang, and Kathleen Mullan Harris. 2000. The mechanisms mediating the effects of poverty on children’s intellectual development. Demography 37.4: 431–447.

              DOI: 10.1353/dem.2000.0005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Analysis of how poverty shapes whether children are able to realize potential in intellectual development. Examines how poverty’s effects are mainly mediated through cognitive stimulation in the home and, to a lesser extent, parenting style, physical environment, child’s ill health at birth, and ill health in childhood. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Hannum, Emily. 2003. Poverty and basic education in rural China: Villages, households, and girls’ and boys’ enrollment. Comparative Education Review 47:141–159.

              DOI: 10.1086/376542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Study of rural patterns of girls’ and boys’ schooling in China. Demonstrates importance of gender and socioeconomic status; how families influence the likelihood of schooling and interact with village resources during an era of decentralization. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Jacob, Brian A., and Jens Ludwig. 2009. Improving educational outcomes for poor children. In Changing poverty, changing policies. Edited by Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger, 266–300. New York: Russell Sage.

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              Review essay of academic and policy debates about schools in the United States and poverty. Considers role of school resources, early childhood education, class sizes, teacher incentives and labor markets, curriculum, school choice, and student background.

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            • Nussbaum, Martha. 2004. Women’s education: A global challenge. Signs 29.2: 325–355.

              DOI: 10.1086/378571Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Engaged essay on the salience of women’s education in developing countries. Presents theoretical arguments and empirical evidence on how crucial girls’ schooling is for well-being, fertility, gender equality, and economic development. Persuasive critique of dominance of economic growth in development debates.

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            • Saporito, Salvatore, and Deenesh Sohoni. 2007. Mapping educational inequality: Concentrations of poverty among poor and minority students in public schools. Social Forces 85.3: 1227–1253.

              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2007.0055Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Innovative geographic analysis of mismatch between school and neighborhood compositions. Shows that school catchment areas are more racially and socioeconomically diverse than school enrollments. Thus, affluent and white children select out of schools in a way that makes schools more poor and concentrated with racial minorities than surrounding neighborhoods.

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            Work and Labor Markets

            In some ways, the links between poverty and work are obvious. Having a job is an effective way to escape poverty, and those that are employed are less likely to be poor. But in many ways, the relationship is more complex. Even among the employed, there is a great deal of poverty in some places, and the opportunities for employment and the returns to employment vary significantly by context. Sociologists have joined with other social scientists to appreciate the role of economic performance in shaping poverty. Sociologists have also scrutinized those who are the working poor and low-wage workers and the dynamics of escaping poverty through employment. Finally, there has recently been much interest in the informal economy, where many of the poor work.

            Economic Performance

            The classic economic model posits poverty as responsive to macro-economic performance. When unemployment is low, poverty is lower. When economies are growing and mean wages are rising, poverty declines. There has been a great deal of research, mainly outside sociology, assessing the relationship between economic performance and poverty. Blank 1997 argues that economic performance has become less effective for reducing poverty, while Blank 2000 argues that economic performance is very effective. Freeman 2001 and Gundersen and Ziliak 2004 are further examples of tests of the effects of economic performance on poverty, both finding quite consequential effects. This broad literature has also been challenged by those using more sophisticated and defensible measures of poverty than the official U.S. measure. For example, DeFina 2002 shows that the effects of economic performance very much depend on the particular measure of poverty chosen and that with more justifiable measures of poverty, the effects of economic performance are much weaker.

            • Blank, Rebecca M. 1997. It takes a nation: A new agenda for fighting poverty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Comprehensive and accessible study of poverty in the United States. Meticulous examination of different dimensions of US poverty, with special attention to welfare programs and work/employment. Argues that economic growth is less effective in the contemporary era in reducing poverty and boosting employment among low-income workers. Critiques official US measure of poverty.

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            • Blank, Rebecca M. 2000. Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Fighting poverty: Lessons from recent U.S. history. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14.2: 3–19.

              DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.2.3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Reverses Blank 1997 and argues that poverty is likely to be reduced by economic growth. Argues that economic performance is the dominant influence on poverty and that 1990s’ economic expansion in the United States successfully reduced poverty. Analyses confined to official US measure of poverty.

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            • DeFina, Robert H. 2002. The impact of macroeconomic performance on alternative poverty measures. Social Science Research 31.1: 29–48.

              DOI: 10.1006/ssre.2001.0716Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Convincingly demonstrates that effects of economic performance are very sensitive to the measure of poverty utilized. Criticizes official US measure of poverty and demonstrates that economic performance is much less effective with a more valid and reliable measure of poverty. Persuasively refutes Blank 1997 and Freeman 2001. Available online for purchase.

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            • Freeman, Richard B. 2001. The rising tide lifts . . .? In Understanding poverty. Edited by Sheldon Danziger and Robert Haveman, 97–126. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Review essay with some discussion of empirical trends on the effect of economic performance on poverty in the United States. Boldly and confidently argues that economic performance is a very powerful, and perhaps the dominant, influence on poverty. Argues that effects of economic performance do not depend on official US measure, though no evidence is provided.

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            • Gundersen, Craig, and James Patrick Ziliak. 2004. Poverty and macroeconomic performance across space, race, and family structure. Demography 41.1: 61–86.

              DOI: 10.1353/dem.2004.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Comprehensive test of effect of a few dimensions of economic performance on poverty in the United States in the 1990s and 2000s. Also decomposes effects of performance across race and family structure. Utilizes official US measure only and argues that economic performance has significant effects on poverty. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            The Working Poor and Low-Wage Work

            Many of the poor work; indeed, there are more working poor than unemployed poor people in the United States and most other affluent democracies (Brady, et al. 2010). Thus work has been integrated with poverty rather than noted as a guaranteed source of escape from poverty. Nevertheless, the links between work and poverty have often been studied in relation to how work allows one to escape poverty and how a loss of work leads to poverty. Bane and Ellwood 1986 shows how the dynamics of poverty are linked to the dynamics of employment. Newman 1999 examines the low-wage careers of the working poor and the trials and tribulations of securing a foothold in the labor market. In the 2000s, several scholars explored working poverty comparatively. Zuberi 2006 conducts a two-country/city comparative ethnography of working poverty, while Lohmann 2009 and Brady, et al. 2010 examine working poverty across many affluent democracies. Finally, Pager, et al. 2009 examines the barriers to employment for poor and marginalized people and the important role of racial discrimination.

            • Bane, Mary Jo, and David T. Ellwood. 1986. Slipping into and out of poverty: The dynamics of spells. Journal of Human Resources 21.1: 1–23.

              DOI: 10.2307/145955Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Very influential study of poverty spells. Shows that though most poor people cycle briefly into poverty and then escape poverty, the majority of poor people at any one time are longer-term poor. Demonstrates that declines in earnings are a central factor in descents into poverty and that increased earnings are central to escapes.

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            • Brady, David, Andrew Fullerton, and Jennifer Moren Cross. 2010. More than just nickels and dimes: A cross-national analysis of working poverty in affluent democracies. Social Problems 57:559–585.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.2010.57.4.559Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Multilevel cross-national analysis of working poverty across affluent democracies using the LIS. Examines role of demographic characteristics, unified theory, economic performance, and welfare-state generosity. Shows that working poverty is mostly a function of demographic characteristics and the welfare state in which one resides. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Lohmann, Henning. 2009. Welfare states, labour market institutions and the working poor: A comparative analysis of 20 European countries. European Sociological Review 25.4: 489–504.

              DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcn064Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Multilevel cross-national analysis of working poverty across Europe using the European Union’s Standard of Income and Living Conditions survey. Shows how family structure, education, and other demographic characteristics matter to working poverty before and after taxes and transfers. Also shows that social policy is important as well. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Newman, Katherine S. 1999. No shame in my game: The working poor in the inner city. New York: Russell Sage.

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              Ethnographic study of low-wage and poor workers in Harlem. Shows that most poor people in the inner city engage in employment and that employment is a large part of the lives of the inner-city poor. Offers suggestive evidence that low-wage work can lead to some mobility despite serious challenges.

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            • Pager, Devah, Bruce Western, and Bart Bonikowski. 2009. Discrimination in a low-wage labor market: A field experiment. American Sociological Review 74.5: 777–799.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400505Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Field experiment of job search in low-wage labor market comparing effects of race and criminal record. Black and Latino applicants are substantially disadvantaged compared to whites. Criminal record also has significant effect. However, blacks and Latino applicants with a clean record fare no better than whites with a criminal record.

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            • Zuberi, Dan. 2006. Differences that matter: Social policy and the working poor in the United States and Canada. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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              Comparative ethnography of low-income hotel workers in Seattle and Vancouver. Demonstrates the central roles of labor unions and social policy, which are present in Canada but absent in the United States, in buffering workers against the worst aspects of working poverty.

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            The Informal Economy

            When working, many of the poor engage in wage-earning activities that are beyond the boundaries of the formal, regulated economy. Often this involves criminal economic activity, but, probably more often, this involves smaller activities that simply go unregulated, untaxed, and unsupervised by the state. The informal economy is often a key source of income for the poor but also contains key vulnerabilities as well. Duneier 1999 examines the organization of street vending among mostly homeless men. Venkatesh 2006 examines a wide variety of informal economic activities, including both criminal activities and work that is legal in other regards. McKeever 1998 studies the enormous informal economy existing in developing countries, where a huge share of the world’s workers and poor work.

            • Duneier, Mitchell. 1999. Sidewalk. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

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              Ethnography of homeless and other street vendors in Greenwich Village, New York. Problematizes notions of morality and decency among working poor and shows complexity of such concepts within the lives of the poor. Builds on tradition of urban ecology research showing organic nature of how informal economy operates.

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            • McKeever, Matthew. 1998. Reproduced inequality: Participation and success in the South African informal economy. Social Forces 76.4: 1209–1241.

              DOI: 10.2307/3005833Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Utilizing national-level survey data from South Africa in the early 1990s, this study examines the success experienced by participants in the informal and formal economy. Shows that both economies favor Whites and that stratification is similar in the informal and formal economy.

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            • Venkatesh, Sudhir A. 2006. Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Multidimensional ethnography of informal economy among urban poor in Chicago. Examines many aspects of informal economy, from gangs to sex work to “homework” like cooking meals and taking boarders. Demonstrates how informal economy is interwoven with formal economy and community social structure.

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            Family

            Because households pool economic resources and are sources of burden and support, family life is essential to understanding poverty. Marriage, partnering, fertility, and parenting contribute to any one person’s odds of poverty, and family is where poverty is experienced and shared. Family scholars have devoted attention to how families endure poverty and how family characteristics predict poverty. Much debate has occurred on the role of family structure in causing poverty and reproducing inequalities. McLanahan and Percheski 2008 reviews this literature. One of the ways family characteristics contribute to poverty is because a lack of marriage, especially among parents, creates disadvantage. Lichter, et al. 2003 shows how this works while also demonstrating the difficulties low-income unwed mothers face in finding a partner. Edin 2000 and Edin, et al. 2004 examine why low-income women do not marry and especially why unmarried parents do not marry after the birth of a child. Burton, et al. 2009 challenges some of the claims of Edin, et al. 2004, especially relating to whether low-income women have a generalized distrust of men. Harknett and McLanahan 2004 shows that one of the reasons for a lack of marriage among low-income women is because there is a shortage of marriageable men. In a unique paper, Cherlin, et al. 2004 shows a link between earlier abuse and subsequent marriage and cohabitation, a relationship that is even more influential for low-income women. Finally, Scheper-Hughes 1992 examines some of these issues while ethnographically studying low-income families in northeast Brazil.

            • Burton, Linda M., Andrew Cherlin, Donna-Marie Winn, Angela Estacion, and Clara Holder-Taylor. 2009. The role of trust in low-income mothers’ intimate unions. Journal of Marriage and Family 71.5: 1107–1124.

              DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00658.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Based on the Three-City Study, challenges Edin’s and others’ notion that there is a generalized gender mistrust among low-income women. Utilizes symbolic interaction theory and longitudinal ethnographic data to show that vocalized gender distrust does not deter involvement in intimate unions. Rather, mothers enact trust as suspended, compartmentalized, misplaced, and integrated. Available online by subscription.

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            • Cherlin, Andrew J., Tera R. Hurt, Linda M. Burton, and Diane M. Purvin. 2004. The influence of physical and sexual abuse on marriage and cohabitation. American Sociological Review 69.6: 768–789.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900602Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Using ethnographic and survey components of the Three City study, examines relationships between union formation and experience of abuse among low-income families. Shows abuse experience undermines likelihood of marriage, cohabitation, and partnering. Suggests abuse experience contributes to lack of marriage among low-income women and men.

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            • Edin, Kathryn. 2000. What do low-income single mothers say about marriage? Social Problems 47.1 :112–133.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.2000.47.1.03x0282vSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Study of intensive interviews of low-income single mothers. Explores why such women have children and are less likely to get married. Considers motivations for non-marriage, including the dearth of economically sustainable men, and notions of respectability, mistrust and control, and fear of domestic violence. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Edin, Kathryn, Maria J. Kefalas, and Joanna M. Reed. 2004. A peek inside the black box: What marriage means for poor unmarried parents. Journal of Marriage and Family 66.4: 1007–1014.

              DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00072.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Introductory chapter to special issue of journal on marriage and the poor. Also, contains small part of broader project of intensive interviews across several research sites. Examines why low-income unmarried parents aspire to marriage but fail to achieve. Emphasizes cultural meanings attached to cohabitation and marriage. Available online by subscription.

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            • Harknett, Kristen, and Sara S. McLanahan. 2004. Racial and ethnic differences in marriage after the birth of a child. American Sociological Review 69.6: 790–811.

              DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900603Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Using the Fragile Families study, examines racial/ethnic disparities in marriage among low-income couples thirty months after nonmarital birth. Argues that marriage market conditions exert a large influence, especially the undersupply of employed African American men.

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            • Lichter, Daniel T., Deborah Roempke Graefe, and J. Brian Brown. 2003. Is marriage a panacea? Union formation among economically disadvantaged unwed mothers. Social Problems 50.1: 60–86.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.2003.50.1.60Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Using retrospective family life history data, examines marital histories of at-risk women. Finds that disadvantaged women who have children out of wedlock have much lower rates of subsequent marriage. Being and staying married significantly reduces poverty and welfare receipt, and the benefits of marriage are especially strong among the disadvantaged. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • McLanahan, Sara, and Christine Percheski. 2008. Family structure and the reproduction of inequalities. Annual Review of Sociology 34:257–276.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134549Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Review essay of how family structure is both an effect and a cause of poverty and inequality. Argues that family structure reproduces class, race, and gender inequalities and offers accounts of how and why it does so. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1992. Death without weeping: The violence of everyday life in Brazil. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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              Rich ethnography of poor communities in northeastern Brazil in the early 1980s. Explores the social production of infant death and poverty. Investigates how mothers experience and make sense of high child mortality and malnutrition. Deep investigation into the economy, family life, and experience of poverty.

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            Feminization

            After decades of research, there is a great deal of evidence supporting the claim that women are more likely to be poor than men. Diana Pearce coined the term “the feminization of poverty” to denote women’s disproportionate representation among the poor and to highlight the economic vulnerability of women and especially mothers (“The feminization of poverty: Women, work and welfare,” Urban and Social Change Review 11, 28-36). Research in this area has been concerned with examining the extent and sources of the feminization of poverty. In the 1990s and 2000s, international research began to accumulate as well. Casper, et al. 1994 was one of the first international studies, while Christopher, et al. 2002 updated the analyses with more recent data. Much of this international research has been oriented by developments in the welfare-state literature, especially feminist studies of the gendered nature of the welfare state. Orloff 1993 provides one of the most influential pieces in that literature. Gornick 2004 unites much of this research by also drawing connections to employment, family incomes, and social policy. Finally, Brady and Kall 2008 provides evidence that the feminization of poverty is more universal than previously thought and that poverty is more feminized than previously estimated if one incorporates the elderly.

            • Brady, David, and Denise Kall. 2008. Nearly universal, but somewhat distinct: The feminization of poverty in affluent Western democracies, 1969–2000. Social Science Research 37.3: 976–1007.

              DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2007.07.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Comprehensive assessment of feminization of poverty across eighteen countries over thirty years. Demonstrates that feminization is more widespread and worse if the elderly are incorporated. Finds feminization is nearly universal and that the causes of the feminization of poverty are distinct from the causes of the level of poverty. Available online for purchase.

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            • Casper, Lynne M., Sara S. McLanahan, and Irwin Garfinkel. 1994. The gender–poverty gap: What we can learn from other countries. American Sociological Review 59.4: 594–605.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095933Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              One of the first cross-national studies of the feminization of poverty using LIS. Shows substantial cross-national variation in the extent to which women are disproportionately overrepresented among the poor. Finds that the United States has unusually high feminization and that countries accomplish low feminization by multiple routes.

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            • Christopher, Karen, Paula England, Timothy M. Smeeding, and Katherine Ross Phillips. 2002. The gender gap in poverty in modern nations: Single motherhood, the market, and the state. Sociological Perspectives 45.3: 219–242.

              DOI: 10.1525/sop.2002.45.3.219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Updates Casper, et al. 1994 with more recent data and more elaborate models. Examines eight affluent democracies in the mid-1990s with individual-level analyses in the LIS. Finds similar patterns of widespread feminization of poverty, including among otherwise economically egalitarian societies. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Gornick, Janet. 2004. Women’s economic outcomes, gender inequality and public policy: Findings from the Luxembourg Income Study. Socio-Economic Review 2.2: 213–238.

              DOI: 10.1093/soceco/2.2.213Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              State-of-the-art review of the lessons learned from the LIS with regard to gender inequality. Illustrates important patterns and demonstrates utility of cross-national data. Considers employment, poverty, and income more broadly. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Orloff, Ann. 1993. Gender and the social rights of citizenship: The comparative analysis of gender relations and welfare states. American Sociological Review 58.3: 303–328.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095903Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Major intellectual statement about gender in the welfare state. Profound critique of leading power resources theories at the time. Identifies important research agenda for scholars of the welfare state. Argues for evaluating welfare states for enabling the autonomy of women to form their own household and overcoming gender hierarchies.

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            Crime

            The relationship between poverty and crime has seemingly existed as long as there have been poverty and crime. An earlier tradition of criminology exhaustively examined whether poverty causes crime and largely concluded that a simple, clear, and direct causal relationship was not likely. Nevertheless, poverty researchers generally contend that there is some sort of relationship with crime, albeit one that is nuanced and complicated. Some of this nuance comes through in the rich ethnographic literature on crime in poor neighborhoods. The classic study by Anderson 1991 of Philadelphia shows how poor neighborhoods are particularly susceptible to crime. Venkatesh 2006 examines the intricate interdependence between the informal economy, crime, and poverty in the inner city. Others have built on the precision of quantitative criminology and this ethnographic literature and conducted multimethod studies. Hagan and McCarthy 1997 pulls together a variety of interview, fieldwork, and quantitative data to show the multistep links between youth homelessness and crime. Harding 2010 compares and contrasts young men’s experience and development in neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic standing. Sampson, et al. 1997 specifically concentrates on how poor neighborhoods have weaker collective efficacy and how this condition leads to violent crime. Ludwig, et al. 2001 rigorously tests the causal effect of neighborhood conditions for youth crime. Villarreal and Silva 2006 works within the neighborhood literatures while assessing the sources of crime in Brazil.

            • Anderson, Elijah. 1991. Streetwise: Race, class and change in an urban community. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Ethnography of two Philadelphia neighborhoods in the 1980s. Examines changes in family structure, economic opportunities, demographic composition, and other factors that shape neighborhood life. Particularly important for understanding crack cocaine’s effects and street-level interactions and community effects on urban poor.

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            • Hagan, John, and Bill McCarthy. 1997. Mean streets: Youth crime and homelessness. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press.

              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511625497Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Study of homeless youth in Canada. Rich multimethod examination of what draws adolescent children to the streets, their experience of homelessness, and why they engage in crime and informal economic activity like prostitution. Exposes limitations of research on adolescents in school settings that concludes social class is unimportant to crime.

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            • Harding, David J. 2010. Living the drama: Community, conflict, and culture among inner-city boys. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Multimethod study of the effects of neighborhood poverty on adolescent male development. A large part of the study is ethnography of multiple Boston neighborhoods. Examines role of culture in young men’s lives as per consequences for criminal behavior, educational attainment, and sexuality.

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            • Ludwig, Jens, Greg J. Duncan, and Paul Hirschfield. 2001. Urban poverty and juvenile crime: Evidence from a randomized housing-mobility experiment. Quarterly Journal of Economics 116.2: 655–679.

              DOI: 10.1162/00335530151144122Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              One of many studies from the Moving to Opportunity demonstration experiment, in which low-income residents of poor neighborhoods were given vouchers to find housing in alternative neighborhoods. Shows that those who took voucher had children who were less likely to commit crime. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Sampson, Robert J., Stephen W. Raudenbush, and Felton Earls. 1997. Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science 277: 918–924.

              DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.918Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Innovative multilevel study of how neighborhood conditions cause crime in Chicago. Develops measures of collective efficacy to measure neighborhood conditions, including intergenerational closure and informal social control. Convincingly demonstrates that poverty reduces collective efficacy and that weakened collective efficacy leads to violent crime. Available online by subscription.

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            • Venkatesh, Sudhir. 2006. Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Ethnography of informal economic activity in poor neighborhoods of Chicago. Examines several informal economic activities that are criminal, like gangs, drug sales, and prostitution. Deep insight into the lives of the urban poor and the interrelationships between criminals and many aspects of the local economy.

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            • Villarreal, Andres, and Braulio F. A. Silva. 2006. Social cohesion, criminal victimization and perceived risk of crime in Brazilian neighborhoods. Social Forces 84.3: 1725–1753.

              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0073Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines explanations like those from Sampson, et al. 1997 as to how neighborhoods affect crime. Argues that sociological theories developed for US cities may not effectively explain perceived risk of crime in Brazil. Suggests that social cohesion operates differently in developing countries.

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            Health

            One of the best established findings in all of the social sciences is that poverty is bad for one’s health. This has been generally known for decades, if not longer. Since the 1990s, however, sociologists have made tremendous progress in further specifying why, how, and when poverty matters for health. Much of this literature has concentrated on child poverty, in part because it is unlikely that child health causes poverty (a concern with adult health). In two important papers, McLeod and Shanahan 1993 and McLeod and Shanahan 1996 provide convincing evidence of how poverty undermines child mental health. Duncan and Brooks-Gunn 1997 covers a wider terrain, examining many different aspects of child development, and largely confirms a strong relationship between poverty and children’s health. Like the crime literature, there has also been much interest in how poor neighborhoods influence health. The evidence has perhaps been more mixed, and Wen, et al. 2003 finds that neighborhood affluence benefits health but neighborhood poverty does not have clear effects. In addition to showing how poverty undermines health, scholars have been interested in the health of the acutely poor. This concern manifested in the 1980s in debates about what percentage of the homeless were mentally ill. Though debates on this issue have continued, Snow, et al. 1986 and Wright 1988 sparked much interest.

            • Duncan, Greg J., and Jean Brooks-Gunn, eds. 1997. Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russell Sage.

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              Influential edited collection that contains a wide variety of chapters on all varieties of consequences of child poverty. Contains many influential researchers examining health, human development, education, and children’s well-being broadly. Includes persuasive analyses of child poverty’s effects on physical health as well as studies of the effects of divorce and single parenthood.

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            • McLeod, Jane D., and Michael Shanahan. 1993. Poverty, parenting, and children’s mental health. American Sociological Review 58.3: 351–366.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095905Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines link between low family income and children’s externalizing and internalizing symptoms of mental health such as depression and antisocial behavior. Convincing analyses of effects of economic disadvantage on children’s health, development, and life chances.

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            • McLeod, Jane D., and Michael J. Shanahan. 1996. Trajectories of poverty and children’s mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 37.3: 207–220.

              DOI: 10.2307/2137292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Expands beyond McLeod and Shanahan 1993 to more fully consider the longitudinal and dynamic relationship between poverty and children’s mental health. Considers poverty duration and persistence of poverty and changes over time in mental health, including “accelerating behavioral disadvantages faced by the persistently poor.”

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            • Snow, David A., Susan G. Baker, Leon Anderson, and Michael Martin. 1986. The myth of pervasive mental illness among the homeless. Social Problems 33.5: 407–423.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.1986.33.5.03a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Mixed-methods studying aimed at estimating the extent of mental illness among the homeless. Uses ethnographic and social service based sample of Austin, Texas. Estimates only a small percentage of homeless are mentally ill. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Wen, Ming, Christopher R. Browning, and Kathleen A. Cagney. 2003. Poverty, affluence and income inequality: Neighborhood economic structure and its implications for health. Social Science & Medicine 57.5: 843–860.

              DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(02)00457-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines whether neighborhood economic context has significant effects on individual health net of individual characteristics. Using multilevel models, finds that neighborhood affluence is consequential but that poverty and inequality are not. Available online for purchase.

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            • Wright, James D. 1988. The mentally ill homeless: What is myth and what is fact? Social Problems 35.2: 182–191.

              DOI: 10.1525/sp.1988.35.2.03a00060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Revisits Snow, et al. 1986 and concludes that mental illness is much higher than previously estimated. Based on sample of homeless who visited health care facilities in many different cities. Argues that probably one-third of homeless are mentally ill. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            LAST MODIFIED: 07/27/2011

            DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0041

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