Revealing the devastating costs of childhood poverty

Mark Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the Brown School


In 1962, Michael Harrington published his groundbreaking exposé on poverty, “The Other America,” which helped to awaken the country to the scourge of poverty. Yet after six decades, the paradox of poverty amid plenty remains. This disturbing fact serves as the starting point for Jeff Madrick’s book “Invisible Americans.”

Like Harrington’s, Madrick’s goal is to reveal the conditions, causes and costs of poverty, specifically childhood poverty. His underlying assumption is that if we as a nation truly understood the tragic toll of child poverty, we would act decisively to alleviate it.

Madrick rightly points out that the United States has the highest rates of child poverty and deprivation among the wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Why should this be? Although many possible reasons exist, one particularly powerful set of factors is that the nation has often viewed the poor as undeserving of assistance.

Read the full piece in the Washington Post.

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