Pathways

While we’re waiting for word from DC and Maryland on the primary results, I wanted to make a plug for the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality‘s new magazine, Pathways: a magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy.  The first issue features essays on how to end poverty from Edwards, Clinton and Obama (McCain and Romney were invited to participate, but declined).  But I think the rest of the magazine is even better.

  • It includes the best summary for a general audience I’ve read of the evidence on the impact of housing vouchers on economic opportunity.  DeLuca and Rosenbaum explain the differences between the overwhelmingly positive results for the families who received vouchers under Gautreaux, a court-ordered remedy in a desegregation case, and the more mixed results for families who received vouchers under Moving to Opportunity, a random assignment evaluation modeled after Gautreaux, and make some reasonable arguments about the lessons that policymakers should draw.
  • Robert Frank (of The Winner Take All Society) explains why inequality is bad for rich people too, and argues for a progressive consumption tax.
  • Charles Murray (of the Bell Curve) makes an case largely grounded in Frank’s reasoning for why interventions aimed at increasing opportunity for low-income families won’t reduce inequality.
  • Becky Blank, codirector of the National Poverty Center at UMichigan, reviews the three Democratic candidates’ proposals and concludes that they "all have multifaceted and serious anti-poverty plans.  Anyone concerned with poverty issues could happily vote for any of them.  Edwards has made poverty a centerpiece issue for his campaign from the beginning; Clinton has the best early childhood proposals; Obama is the most thoughtful on jobs for disadvantaged youth and urban change and (for my money) the most creative in putting new policy ideas on the table, such as low-cost Internet service in poor neighborhoods.  But all of them understand that the measure of this country is not just the size of its GDP or the wealth of its richest citizens."

The whole magazine is available as .pdfs, and hard copy subscriptions are free.  Check it out.

2 Responses to “Pathways”

  1. Jackie Says:

    Thanks for the tip– I’m saving the reading for later, but made sure to sign up for subscriptions.

  2. dave.s. Says:

    Yesterday in the Times Business Section, Floyd Norris let loose this spectacular Shaw quote:
    ” ‘I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor. That’s what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he’s up agen middle class morality all the time … I don’t need less than a deserving man; I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him, and I drink a lot more.’ — Alfred Doolittle, in “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw”
    I read the Murray article (and the Smeeding article, which I thought was kind of piffle, with misleading comparisons – maybe I’ll try and think a little more carefully about that one and write on it sometime) and was impressed enough to go back to Bell Curve, which I had found heavy going and set aside years ago. Much of The Bell Curve is devoted to a discussion of life outcomes for dull white people who are in the lower quintiles on income and education, etc. This all suggests that lift-them-up programs for a lot of lowest-quintile people would have to be very invasive to work. Murray’s and Herrnstein’s last chapter, though, doesn’t have much in the way of policy to suggest, just trying to make valued roles for people of varying levels of talent, which is kind of anodyne.

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