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Journal Article

Myth and Reality: The Causes and Persistence of Poverty

Mary Corcoran, Greg J. Duncan, Gerald Gurin and Patricia Gurin
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Vol. 4, No. 4 (Summer, 1985), pp. 516-536
DOI: 10.2307/3323752
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3323752
Page Count: 21
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Myth and Reality: The Causes and Persistence of Poverty
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Abstract

Policies directed at alleviating poverty rest on a set of assumptions regarding the demographic composition of the poor and the psychological dispositions of poor individuals. Evidence from a long-term study of a representative sample of low-income individuals shows that poverty is very widespread but not usually very persistent, and that the characteristics of the persistently poor do not conform to the conventional wisdom. Furthermore, the economic status of the poor does not appear to have been caused by psychological dispositions. Intergenerational data from the same study show generally weak links between the poverty or welfare status of parents and that of their children. Public policies for dealing with poverty can be properly devised without attempting to resocialize poor people and without undue concern that poverty programs will generate dependency among the majority of those they help.

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