chapter  4
Why Are People Poor in America?
Pages 20

Why are people poor in a country as rich as America? While many people, including some scholars, think the answer is simple, a thoughtful analysis suggests the antecedents of poverty are complex. As shown in Chapter 3, the poverty population is much more diverse than many people imagine. The poor are stereotyped as chiefly minorities, single women and their illegitimate children, and street people. In fact, the poverty population is an elaborate mix of people who vary by age, race, sex, geographic location, and family structure. Among the poor can be found the elderly, often living alone, married-couple families with children in which one or sometimes even both parents are employed, young healthy males who may be in the labor force, single or married adults without children, and farmworkers following crop rotations across the nation. The poor can be found in every state, in central cities, in suburbs and rural areas in every region of the nation. Does it seem reasonable that the same cause or reasons are responsible for the poverty of these diverse groups of people? Is an eighty-five-year-old widow poor for the same reasons as an eighteenyear-old single mother or a homeless alcoholic?