Poverty and Public Policy in the 1990s
This chapter discusses poverty in the 1990s, which is very different from poverty even thirty years ago when Lyndon Johnson launched his famous War on Poverty. It considers the most promising “new ideas” for anti-poverty initiatives. Poverty is one of the issues that rubs uncomfortably against our social conscience. When Ronald Reagan claimed in 1980 that economic growth would help the poor, few poverty analysts could have argued with him; earlier periods of economic growth in the country were clearly associated with declining poverty rates, most notably the sustained economic expansion of the 1960s. Some of the problems faced by the poor in the 1990s are less readily “solvable” by public policy, so that the promised results of the new policy directions are necessarily somewhat limited. The traditional liberal agenda for social policy has been to design Federally funded and run programs.