United States Poverty: Causes

Figure 1.--This little boy was the grandson of a tenant farmer. His father was in the penitentiary and his grandparents in 1939 were caring for him. He lived in Granville County, North Carolina. The photographer is Dorothea Lange, a now rebounded photofrapher working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange had the ability of humanized the plight of Americans caught up in the Great Depression. When Lange photographed this little boy, there were indeed institutiional barriers he faced, But why with the renoval of these barriers do so many blacls have troubke succeeding in America.

The question of course arises as to what causes poverty. And what is the most effective policies to reduce poverty. The causes of poverty are fairly easy to ascertain, although somewhat controversial. Conservatives tend to believe that poverty is a question of personal resonsibility. Liberals tend to be believe that poverty is the result of societal problems and institutional barriers. The New Deal and the G.I. Bill following World War II helped to bring many working-class Americans (often Catholic immigrant groups) into the economic mainstream. The Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Bills (1965-65), there were significant institutional barriers based on race. Now a half a century after the land-mark Civil Rights legislation while black middle-class has developed, large numbers of blacks continue to be part of an economic under-class. One has to ask why that is and how long this will continue. Hispanics with the exceotion of the Cubans also show distressing rates of poverty. Poverty is mot restricted to minority groups, but is especially pronounced in these two groups. There are also high levels of poverty among Native Americans. Interestingly, Native Americansre also the ethnic group that has received the highest level of Government assistance. . Opportunities were more widely opened to minoritie. Today in the United States poverty has become more strongly identified with personal irresponsibility in part due to the increasing secularization of America. And here our basic facts are that poverty in America is largely due to: 1) the use of drugs, 2) having babies out of wedlock (single parent households), and 3) criminal behavior--often interrelated factors. A very large share of the poor in America are caught up in one or all of these factors.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main U.S. poverty page]
[Return to the Main U.S. Economics page]
[Return to the Main Economics page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 7:06 AM 4/11/2011
Last updated: 9:29 PM 4/5/2012