Chapter

Poverty as a Structural Failing

Mark Robert Rank

in One Nation, Underprivileged

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195101683
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894048 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101683.003.0003
Poverty as a Structural Failing

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This chapter turns to the question of why poverty exists at such high rates in the United States. Much of the focus in the past has been upon explaining poverty in terms of individual characteristics and personal deficits. It is argued that such an approach misses the underlying causes and mechanisms that produce poverty. The fundamental causes of poverty are to be found in the economic, political, and social failings of society. A conceptual model is outlined that allows the reinterpretation of the dynamic of American poverty. It incorporates the importance of human capital characteristics in determining who loses out at the economic game, within the broader structural nature of American poverty that ensures the existence of economic losers in the first place. This is referred to as a structural vulnerability explanation of poverty.

Keywords: United States; American poverty; structural vulnerability; human capital; poor in America

Chapter.  12737 words.  Illustrated.

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