Matthew Desmond (2023): Poverty persists in America because while those in poverty struggle, many who are not poor benefit from the poverty of their fellow citizens

A March 9, 2023 New York Times article by Matthew Desmond is entitled: “Why Poverty Persists in America: A Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist offers a new explanation for an intractable problem.”

An excerpt reads:

There are, it would seem, deeper structural forces at play, ones that have to do with the way the American poor are routinely taken advantage of. The primary reason for our stalled progress on poverty reduction has to do with the fact that we have not confronted the unrelenting exploitation of the poor in the labor, housing and financial markets.

Desmond is author of Poverty, By America (2023).

In note 37 on page 236 of the above-noted study, Desmond comments that social science has not been helpful in addressing the matter at hand given that “the poverty-research industrial complex, and much of public policy along with it” has focused on collecting “individual-level data about the poor.”

Such data, Desmond notes, has been gathered particularly through “massive, multiyear surveys” which constitute “one-sided data” from which has been built “an evidence base about inequality devoid of serious empirical treatments of power and exploitation.”

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