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Sociology: Chapter 10

Poverty might perhaps be
neither cause not effect but rather a proxy for an underlying social disease of inequality and economic segregation.
can be defined as a condition of deprivation due to economic circumstances that is severe enough that the individual in this condition cannot live with dignity in his or her society.
The administration of Lyndon Johnson
established a wide range of anti-poverty programs in the 1960s.
*These included programs for education, job training and placement, housing, all as a part of the "War on Poverty."
*new programs called Head Start, College Work Study, and the Job Corps
*Within just a few years, many of these programs, and the whole ideology behind them, had come under attack.
a period of economic decline lasting half a year or more.
Who does recession affect?
*the entire economy may be affected. Individuals may become unemployed, forcing them to cut back on expenses. As a result, businesses may close because no customers come and spend money. As a result, more people lose jobs because the businesses they work for are closing. So, as you can see, recessions often have wide-ranging and severe impacts on a society.
Culture of poverty
argues that poor people adopt certain practices, which differ from those of middle-class, "mainstream" society, in order to adapt and survive in difficult economic circumstances (Lewis)
*In U.S context these practices might include illegal work, multigenerational living arrangements
*Additionally, this theory asserts that sometimes these individuals continue to rely on these practices even after they are no longer useful and have become potentially detrimental.
*Part of a backlash against the policies implemented by President Johnson, this theory was used to bolster the arguments of welfare critics.
*pooling of community resources as a form of informal social insurance
*Informal safety net - doing an "I owe you" favor where no pay is involved (watching kids)
Patrick Moynihan
made a controversial report on black families in which he argued that a tangle of family pathology holds back the AF. American population; cultural arrangement of the black/"tangle of pathology"
Negative income tax
way government reclaimed money through taxation until a certain crossover point at which households would start paying "positive taxes" (gave women economic independence; some good and some bad...which didn't go over very well in the U.S)
Jody Allen
("Designing Income Maintenance System") suggested that this tax would make 50-60% actually work less and not lift them out of poverty
While it may be true that reliance on welfare generates a sense of helplessness and dependency in some people, there are also...?
structural reasons why it can be difficult to transition from welfare to work.
Ken Auletta
journalist that introduced the concept of the underclass - which promotes a much more negative view of poor people than held previously.
*people who not only are unable to take advantage of what society has to offer, but also are increasingly deviant and even dangerous to the rest of society.
the notion, building on the culture of poverty argument, that the poor not only are different from mainstream society in their inability to take advantage of what mainstream society has to offer but also are increasingly deviant and even dangerous to the rest of us
Charles Murray
*reemphasized perverse incentives by arguing that welfare regulations make work and marriage less attractive and rising welfare benefits more attractive.
*Pointed out that the expansion of welfare showed a rise in crime, unwed births, and unemployment.
At the core of the debate about poverty in America is the question of ?
whether poverty is the cause of social ills such as crime, poor educational outcomes, divorce, and so on, or whether it is their result.
Perverse incentives
are reward structures that lead to suboptimal outcomes by stimulating counterproductive behavior. For example, some argue that welfare encourages people not to work.
Unintended consequences
are results of a policy that were not fully anticipated at the time the policy was implemented, particularly outcomes that are counter to the intentions of the policymakers.
William Julius Wilson
turned the focus from welfare to factors such as deindustrialization, globalization, suburbanization, and discrimination as causes of urban poverty and contributes to high rates of welfare-dependent, single-mother families
*Such factors have contributed to a net shrinkage of the pool of employed, un-incarcerated men, thus greatly limiting women's opportunity to find a stable life partner. Many women are compelled to go it alone because they cannot rely on support from a husband or boyfriends
*Argued welfare was really minor consideration with respect to the labor and marriage markets
In the past 20 to 30 years, policies to combat poverty have focused on ...?
encouraging work and offering benefits that directly serve children.
Susan Mayer
(In her book What Money Can't Buy) she writes that she found very little evidence to support the widely held belief that parental income has a significant effect on children's outcomes.
*Challenged the assumption that poverty directly causes poor health, behavioral problems, and a host of other problems for children
*Also stated that there was no correlation but a coincidence with a missing third factor of jobs
*Found that household condition are highly responsive to income; not the income but how it is spent is what matters (offer controversial views about the impact of poverty on peoples' lives)
Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein
(In The Bell Curve) argued that it's not poverty or education or parenting that ultimately has the most impact on children's outcomes, but simply genes.
*However the U.S has become more meritocratic and fewer ppl with bad genes rise to the top and fewer with good ones get stuck at the bottom
Dorothy Gautreaux
*took part in class-action lawsuit that ended in new social experiment such as a voucher
*The Gautreaux Assisted Living Program in Chicago and the Moving to Opportunity study provided opportunities to explore the effects on families in a low-poverty versus a high-poverty neighborhood
James Rosenbaum
found that those who moved out of the ghetto and into low-property areas had better employment situations and their children improved on a number of indicators
Imbens, Rubin and Sacerdote
*surveyed lottery winners found that modest prizes (15,000 for 20 years) did not have much effect on work behavior but larger prizes (80,000 per year) did reduce work hours by 20% (reproducing the negative income tax's results
*People with zero earning, and not priory in the workforce, increase their commitment to work after receiving the prize
Absolute poverty
*the point at which a household's income falls below the necessary level to purchase food to physically sustain its members. (concept fits Karl Marx's notion of the physical reproduction of labor)
*considers the cost of living compared to actual income
*Hawaii has the highest cost of living compared to Oklahoma with the lowest
William Beveridge
outlined his proposal for a welfare state in a presentation to the British S.S. League
Official Poverty line
in the United States is calculated using a formula developed in the 1960s by Mollie Orshansky.
*estimates food costs for minimum food requirements to determine whether a family can "afford" to survive
*can be problematic, as the cost of food has decreased but the cost of living (rent, utilities, etc.) have increased
**based on meeting minimum nutritional requirements assuming families spend 1/3 of their budget on food
Relative poverty
is a measurement of poverty based on a percentage of the median income in a given location.
A more fundamental criticism of trying to establish an absolute measure of poverty
that it is impossible because every measure is relative.
Different societies and even different groups within one society define poverty
differently - there are different, socially constructed notions of what things in life are absolute necessities.
Relative poverty
a measurement of poverty based on a percentage of the median income in a given location.
Three basic theories about how poverty negatively affects children:
*One focuses on the material deprivations caused by a family's low socioeconomic status.
*One focuses on bad parenting practices that are related to a family's low socioeconomic status.
*One focuses on differences between poor parents and higher-income parents, but without much faith that anything can be done to affect these differences.
Parenting stress hypothesis
a paradigm in which the psychological aspects of poverty exacerbate household stress levels; this stress, in turn, leads to detrimental parenting practices such as yelling, shouting, and hitting, which are not conducive to healthy child development
The "no effect" paradigm
was different from the material deprivation and parenting stress models of how poverty negatively effects children is that supports of the "no effect" paradigm hold out little hope that much can be done to improve outcomes for poor children
Bottom line is that poverty works through
the family environment, so the family is ultimately responsible for mediating its impact on children
The United States has a much broader range of
*inequality (our rich are much richer than our poor) than any other developed nation in the world, as well as higher poverty rates (a larger percentage of the population is below the poverty line).
*A number of theories have been advanced as to why the United States is in this unique position among industrialized nations, including the timing of the transition to free-market capitalism by other countries compared to the United States and our decentralized form of government, in which states have a lot of power.
How much of the population has income less than 50% of the median
17.1% of the population has income less than 50% of the median (next closest is Australia with 12.4)
Explanations of the position: *although none alone are sufficient
*Issue of timing
*Institutional structure
*Cultural history (no feudalism)
Timing of the transition to a free-market economy has been used to explain
the great differences b/t the U.S. and other industrialized nation in terms of inequality and poverty bc institutions that could better protect the weak or disadvantaged were more fully developed in countries that transitioned to a free-market later than the U.S did
Bush's Pension Protection Act
*tried to fix employer-based retirement saving system
*IRA to provide a mechanism for retirement savings when the 401k option is not available
What two roots can poverty have?
*physical roots
*social causes
Some theorist argue that there can never be an absolute definition of poverty because
poverty is always relational—a person is not poor in isolation but rather in comparison to someone else
The Moving to Opportunity
study found that families who moved from high-poverty to low-poverty neighborhoods experienced positive changes with regard to daily stress and children's test scores, as well as -minimal changes with regard to employment and earnings
**tried to pick up where Gautreaux left off, partly bc G were self-selected, & now were randomly assigned
*Stated that income is not the main problem, social division is
Raising the income limits of Medicaid allows
ppl to work low-paying jobs but still receive benefits that are necessary to their survival...helps recipients transition to work
Level of income inequality in the U.S.
is higher than that of all other developed countries
What most accurately represents the relationship b/t various elements that affect child outcomes according to 2 main theories?
Relationship between poverty > condition in the home > parental behavior > child outcomes
Does poverty cause social ills such as crime, poor educational outcomes, and divorces, or is it a result of such problems?...
has been the question at the core of the debate about poverty for the last 40-50 years.
In What Money Can't Buy, sociologist Susan Mayer challenged the common assumption that ?
poverty directly causes poor health, behavioral problems, and a host of other problems for children
The Gautreaux Assisted Living Program in Chicago and the Moving to Opportunity study provided opportunities to explore
the effects of living in a low-poverty versus a high-poverty neighborhood
Criticism of the Poverty Line
*The formula does not reflect that housing now takes up a much larger portion of family budgets.
*The formula does not take into account regional variations.
**This formulation has not changed since it was introduced, but it has been heavily criticized for not evolving to reflect broad changes in people's circumstances over the past 40 years