Persistence of Poverty

February 5, 1964

Report Outline
Spotlight on the Nation's Poor People
Extent and Nature of American Poverty
Paucity of Measures to Combat Poverty

Spotlight on the Nation's Poor People

President johnson's declaration of war on poverty promises to make the general public newly aware of the plight of millions of Americans who have no share in the benefits of the country's so-called affluent society. Two writers who are said to have influenced the administration's decision to make a broad-scale attack on poverty-John Kenneth Galbraith and Michael Harrington—have referred to the nation's poor as forgotten or invisible. Galbraith asserted several years ago that the poor were neglected because they were an inarticulate minority and because most people assumed that poverty was rapidly disappearing in America. Harrington observed more recently that the majority of Americans had so little acquaintance with the life of the poor that they tended to ignore them except as a faceless statistic.

Interest in the continuing existence of poverty in an. economy of abundance has nevertheless been growing. It began to increase during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Since Lyndon B. Johnson became President, the concern has been raised to the level of a crusade. It now appears that the drive against poverty will provide major issues for next autumn's presidential campaign. Nothing comparable has occurred since the early campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt three decades ago.

Reasons Foe Present Concern Over Poverty

The problem of poverty today is different from what it was in the 1930s. At that time, destitution was widespread and it affected millions who had known comfort and seemingly assured security only a few years earlier; there was popular support, therefore, for radical measures to restore the economy and for enactment of basic social welfare legislation. Now, in contrast, social welfare programs have been functioning for a generation, and the economy is thriving. The poverty that persists thus appears to be of a kind that is immune to the influence of general economic growth and to that of welfare programs designed specifically to relieve want and destitution.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Poverty and Homelessness
Jan. 11, 2019  Domestic Poverty
Aug. 04, 2017  Poverty and Homelessness
Jul. 17, 2015  Fighting Urban Poverty
Oct. 10, 2014  Housing the Homeless
Oct. 28, 2011  Child Poverty
Sep. 07, 2007  Domestic Poverty Updated
Jun. 18, 2004  Ending Homelessness
Dec. 22, 2000  Hunger in America
Apr. 07, 2000  Child Poverty
Jan. 26, 1996  Helping the Homeless
Aug. 07, 1992  The Homeless
Mar. 30, 1990  Why Homeless Need More Than Shelter
Sep. 30, 1983  Hunger in America
Oct. 29, 1982  The Homeless: Growing National Problem
Jan. 25, 1967  Status of War on Poverty
Feb. 05, 1964  Persistence of Poverty
Jun. 06, 1956  Pockets of Poverty
General Employment and Labor
Welfare and Welfare Reform