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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Office of Policy Planning and Research, United States Department of Labor
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1965

    The most difficult fact for white Americans to understand is that in these terms the circumstances of the Negro American community in recent years has probably been getting worse, not better.

    Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening.

    The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.

    The thesis of this paper is that these events, in combination,...

    The most difficult fact for white Americans to understand is that in these terms the circumstances of the Negro American community in recent years has probably been getting worse, not better.

    Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening.

    The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.

    The thesis of this paper is that these events, in combination, confront the nation with a new kind of problem. Measures that have worked in the past, or would work for most groups in the present, will not work here. A national effort is required that will give a unity of purpose to the many activities of the Federal government in this area, directed to a new kind of national goal: the establishment of a stable Negro family structure. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Okun, Arthur M.
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1975

    Contemporary American society has the look of a split-level structure. Its political and social institutions distribute rights and privileges universally and proclaim the equality of all citizens. Yet economic institutions, with efficiency as their guiding principle, create disparities among citizens in living standards and material welfare. This mixture of equal rights and unequal economic status breeds tensions between the political principles of democracy and the economic principles of capitalism. Whenever the wealthy try for extra helpings of supposedly equal rights, and whenever the workings of the market deny anyone a minimum standard of living, "dollars transgress on rights"—in the author's phrase.

    In this revised and expanded version of the Godkin Lectures presented at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University in April 1974, Arthur M. Okun explores the conflicts that arise when society's desire to reduce inequality would impair economic efficiency, confronting policymakers with "the big tradeoff."

    Other economic systems have attempted to solve this...

    Contemporary American society has the look of a split-level structure. Its political and social institutions distribute rights and privileges universally and proclaim the equality of all citizens. Yet economic institutions, with efficiency as their guiding principle, create disparities among citizens in living standards and material welfare. This mixture of equal rights and unequal economic status breeds tensions between the political principles of democracy and the economic principles of capitalism. Whenever the wealthy try for extra helpings of supposedly equal rights, and whenever the workings of the market deny anyone a minimum standard of living, "dollars transgress on rights"—in the author's phrase.

    In this revised and expanded version of the Godkin Lectures presented at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University in April 1974, Arthur M. Okun explores the conflicts that arise when society's desire to reduce inequality would impair economic efficiency, confronting policymakers with "the big tradeoff."

    Other economic systems have attempted to solve this problem; but the best of socialist experiments have achieved a greater degree of equality than our mixed capitalist democracy only at heavy costs in efficiency, and dictatorial governments have reached heights of efficiency only by rigidly repressing their citizenry.

    In contrast, our basic system emerges as a viable, if uneasy, compromise in which the market has its place and democratic institutions keep it in check. But within the existing system there are ways to gain more of one good thing at a lower cost in terms of the other. In Okun's view, society's concern for human dignity can be directed at reducing the economic deprivation that stains the record of American democracy—through progressive taxation, transfer payments, job programs, broadening equality of opportunity, eliminating racial and sexual discrimination, and lowering barriers to access to capital. (publisher abstract)

  • Individual Author: Orshansky, Mollie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1976

    The current official measure of poverty used by the Federal government was originally developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in the early sixties.  Her study, "Children of the Poor", first appeared in the July 1963 Social Security Bulletin, describing a methodology for developing income criteria of need by family size, for families with children.  In January 1965 the Social Security Bulletin contained another article by her entitled "Counting the Poor", which updated and extended the criteria to all types of households, she used as before, a concept of poverty based on budgets centering around cost of a diet which can sustain and adequate nutritional level at a minimal cost using a sliding scale of income requirements for different family sizes and compositions.  An additional refinement was the specification of a lower income level as the threshold for farm families.  This refinement reflected the assumption that farm families customarily obtain housing and food as part of the farm business operation, rather than by direct expenditure. (publisher...

    The current official measure of poverty used by the Federal government was originally developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in the early sixties.  Her study, "Children of the Poor", first appeared in the July 1963 Social Security Bulletin, describing a methodology for developing income criteria of need by family size, for families with children.  In January 1965 the Social Security Bulletin contained another article by her entitled "Counting the Poor", which updated and extended the criteria to all types of households, she used as before, a concept of poverty based on budgets centering around cost of a diet which can sustain and adequate nutritional level at a minimal cost using a sliding scale of income requirements for different family sizes and compositions.  An additional refinement was the specification of a lower income level as the threshold for farm families.  This refinement reflected the assumption that farm families customarily obtain housing and food as part of the farm business operation, rather than by direct expenditure. (publisher abstract)

    This  Technical Paper collects a number of important articles and papers by Mollie Orshansky and others about the development and early history of the poverty thresholds, including: 

    Mollie Orshansky, "Children of the Poor", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 7, July 1963, pp. 3-13.

    Mollie Orshansky, "Counting the Poor:  Another Look at the Poverty Profile", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29 — reprinted in Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 10, October 1988, pp. 25-51.

    Mollie Orshansky, "Who's Who Among the Poor:  A Demographic View of Poverty", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 7, July 1965, pp. 3-32.

    Mollie Orshansky, "How poverty is measured", Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, February 1969, pp. 37-41.

  • Individual Author: Mead, Lawrence
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1986

    Mead's timely and closely reasoned analysis makes a strong intellectual and moral case for a more authoritative welfare policy. (author abstract)

    Mead's timely and closely reasoned analysis makes a strong intellectual and moral case for a more authoritative welfare policy. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Edelman, Peter B.; Ladner, Joyce
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1991

    The current situation for poor adolescents in the United States is reviewed in this collection of essays, and some strategies and insights for policymakers are presented. The essays of this volume cover the basic interactions of adolescence and poverty from theoretical and anecdotal perspectives. Critical issues of education and employment are discussed, and separate assessments of the difficulties facing poor girls and poor boys in adolescence are provided. After an introduction by Peter B. Edelman and Joyce Ladner, the following essays are included: (1) "Growing Up in America" (R. Coles); (2) "The Logic of Adolescence" (L. Steinberg); (3) "The Adolescent Poor and the Transition to Early Adulthood" (A. M. Sum and W. N. Fogg); (4) "The High-Stakes Challenge of Programs for Adolescent Mothers" (J. S. Musick); and (5) "Poverty and Adolescent Black Males: The Subculture of Disengagement" (R. L. Taylor). (SLD) (Eric abstract)

    The current situation for poor adolescents in the United States is reviewed in this collection of essays, and some strategies and insights for policymakers are presented. The essays of this volume cover the basic interactions of adolescence and poverty from theoretical and anecdotal perspectives. Critical issues of education and employment are discussed, and separate assessments of the difficulties facing poor girls and poor boys in adolescence are provided. After an introduction by Peter B. Edelman and Joyce Ladner, the following essays are included: (1) "Growing Up in America" (R. Coles); (2) "The Logic of Adolescence" (L. Steinberg); (3) "The Adolescent Poor and the Transition to Early Adulthood" (A. M. Sum and W. N. Fogg); (4) "The High-Stakes Challenge of Programs for Adolescent Mothers" (J. S. Musick); and (5) "Poverty and Adolescent Black Males: The Subculture of Disengagement" (R. L. Taylor). (SLD) (Eric abstract)

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