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Chapter 9: Poverty, Power, and crime
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  1. Chapter 9: Poverty, Power, and crime • In 2007 more than 37 million people or 12.5% of the population fell below the official poverty thresholds “poverty line.” in 2007 the line was set at an income of $20,650 for a family of four. Critics regard poverty criteria to be quite conservative and believe measures should be set 25% higher. • Metropolitan areas and principal cities within them contain more poor people than non Metropolitan areas.

  2. Urban poverty in US • Highest concentration of poverty is found within central cities: 16.5% of central city populations were poor 2007, in contrast to 11.9% poverty level for metropolitan populations, and slightly higher than 15.4% of non-metropolitan population who were poor • Explaining poverty –a strict culturalist asks, “what is wrong with the poor? A structurelist asks, “what is wrong with the distribution of opportunities and rewards in society?”

  3. Explaining poverty • If opportunity structure is assumed to work fairly well but attitudes and behavior of the poor obstacles to better life, then minimal programs can be directed at helping poor people redeem themselves; however, focusing on economic changes eliminating blue-collar jobs, consequences of racism for minorities, concentration of wealth are critiques of existing social/economic order

  4. “Culture of Poverty” • Cultural adaptations of poor to economic disappointment of defeat, which were response initially to broader features of economy, became a system of values and attitudes or people pass on to their children – a cultural poverty. Once emerged social orders characteristic of these areas becomes self generating and self-perpetuating. Ideal type for “culture of poverty” includes:

  5. “Culture of Poverty” ideal type • Strongly fatalistic beliefs • Weak ego development • Strong Present– time orientation • Little ability to defer gratification or plan for future • Preoccupation with machismo • Knowledge only of one’s own neighborhood of one’s own way of life • Lack of class consciousness

  6. Critics of “culture of poverty” thesis • Since poverty is “internally cause – carried around inside of people” improving circumstances of poor is unlikely to have any appreciable impact of their behavior, at least not in the short term. “It is possible to eliminate the poverty of such a family, but only at great expense, since capacity of radically improvident to waste money is almost unlimited”

  7. Critics of “culture of poverty” thesis • Valentine (1968) argued that the COP thesis was “little more than a middle-class intellectual rationale for blaming poverty on the poor and avoiding recognition of the need for radical change in our society” Ryan (1971) argued that the COP thesis represented “blaming the victim” was the excuse of a society that had failed to provide adequately for all of its members(281);

  8. Structure of poverty and “restricted opportunity” • Former industrial workers whose plants have closed, people working for wages not allowing them to rise above poverty status, those living in regions where robust economic activity, such as mining or agriculture flourished, or products have become uncompetitive, those who bear the burden of prejudice and discrimination and past and present forms.

  9. Structure of poverty and “restricted opportunity” • All have one thing in common: what they have done to become poor far less important in determining size of poverty population and changes in structure the economy; individual cultural or attitudinal adjustment made to cope with poverty is not important in understanding dimensions of poverty; poverty is not something that poor do to themselves, nor something that they individually can do much about;

  10. Structure of poverty • Major factor is restructuring of metropolitan economies and shifts in kinds of jobs available in changing US economy; loss of central city manufacturing jobs to suburbs, redistribution of industry away from older industrial cities toward southern and western regions of the country, employers seeking cheaper labor overseas markets, changes in occupational structure brought about by technology;

  11. Structure of poverty • Between January 2000 5 December 2007, 3.6 million US workers who had worked job for at least three years were displaced because a company closed or moved or position was eliminated: figure for all displaced workers, including those who had been on job for less than three years, was 8.3 million(283).

  12. Dual employment structure City centers have become centers of finance, marketing, and corporate management offer image on economic environment; workers are recruited for jobs at top and bottom of wage system; white-collar positions with attractive salaries not available to urban poor;

  13. Counting the poor • Too low a standard? – Liberal critics say government count of poor is undercounted. Emphasizing basic poverty standard hasn’t been updated in real (inflation – adjusted) terms since 1963.in 1963 for person poverty line was 50% of median family income. By 2001, and had fallen to 34%. Poor had fallen further behind American living standards;

  14. Counting the poor • Poverty thresholds developed in 1963, women were more likely be married, at – home moms; today a lot of poor people live in single-parent homes, needing childcare and work expenses; • Too high a standard? – Conservatives argue that government over counts the poor. Official poverty count doesn’t take all income into account and ignores completely household assets. Census Bureau relies on personal survey responses that may conceal some income (ie. informal economy)

  15. Counting the poor • Major deficiency from conservative perspective is govt counts only a families cash income. Yet all families receive some “in-kind” income. Ex- food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, subsidized housing. The government provides these goods directly; in-kind transfers subsidy for cash income

  16. Patterns of metropolitan residential segregation • Taeuber and Taeuber (1965) use a segregation measure, index of dissimilarity measure degree of black-white racial segregation in 207 largest cities in US; index yields a score of 100 for a perfectly segregated population; score of 80 would indicate 80% of either white or black residents would have to move strategically from their present neighborhood in order to achieve perfect integration;

  17. Index of dissimilarity • In 1960 mean score for 200 cities studied was 86.7, indicating high degree of racial segregation: a score of 60 or more is considered “extreme”. Scores range from a low of 60.4 for San Jose to a high of 98.1 for Fort Lauderdale. Analysis of data for 28 cities with black populations of more than 100,000 revealed a range from a low of 59 for Oakland to a high of 92 for Chicago.

  18. Index of dissimilarity • 2000 census results indicate black-white segregation averaging 65.2 across all US metropolitan areas. Having declined by 5.8% between 1980 and 1990, segregation declined at a lower rate of 4.6% between 1990 and 2000; • Latinos were increasingly isolated from 1980 to 2000; Los Angeles in 1980 Latinos were located in neighborhoods that were 50% Latino; by 2000, 63% of their neighbors were Latino; comparable figures for Dallas were 24% in 1980 and 45% in 2000. Blacks continue to live “in metropolises with highest level segregation”

  19. Effects of racial segregation • Higher segregation associated with greater exposure start to air pollutants known to increase risk of cancer; racial segregation of urban blacks associated with higher rates of victimization homicide. Public elementary enrollments in 2000 revealed nearly half of white students attended schools over 90% white, and a third at schools that were 95% white. 40% of black and Latino elementary school students were attending schools with 90% minority;

  20. Effects of racial segregation • In 2000 average black student had much lower share of white students in their schools that was case in 1990 due to declining proportion of white student enrollment in public schools and increasing proportion of black, Latino, and Asian. Educational segregation stems from residential segregation educational bias penalized minority students not likely to be corrected until residential segregation levels are altered (288).

  21. Federal Housing Act 1968 • Last major civil rights law passed in 1960s; Housing as problem leading to violence in mid 1960s; • Conclusion supported by data- 1960 census population and housing; Average segregation of Blacks from Whites in largest cities was stable over time: 86.2 in 1960; 85.2 in 1940 and 87.3 in 1960;

  22. Trends in Black White Segregation

  23. What did 1968 Act accomplish? • Segregation numbers would be higher if act wasn’t passed; Original act was gutted of most of its enforcement provisions by compromise amendments; Eliminated HUDs ability to investigate allegations of discrimination; • 1988 law- revised law more stringent enforcement provisions; Extended time for filing complaints, protected those with disabilities, increased HUDs powers; • 1998 10th anniversary of an effective Fair Housing Act and 30th anniversary of a symbolic one;

  24. Segregation Not Equally Distributed • Segregation higher African-Amers than any other group; 65% greater than Asians,35% greater than Hispanics; For example, Chicago segregation of Asians and Hispanics similar, about one-half level of that of African-Amers; • Segregation by race higher than any other characteristic: higher than European immigrants, employed vs unemployed, single vs married couple families, high school verse non-high school,

  25. Economic Costs of Discrimination • Yinger (1977) estimates that discrimination costs blacks households a “tax’ of $4000 on average, every time they search for a house to buy; • Not taking part in home ownership, current generation of Blacks missed out on $82 billion- $52 billion through lack of housing appreciation, $10.5 billion paying higher mortgage rates, $13.5 billion from denial of mortgages; Oliver and Shapiro (1995)