Looking Back at the War on Poverty: A Conversation with Sheldon Danziger (Fall 2015)

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It is hard to determine whether or not an effort like the War on Poverty has worked when it is veiled in political rhetoric, affected by multiple significant variables, and largely misunderstood. One such variable is that antipoverty programs operate in the context of overall economic conditions. As Danziger explains, “increased productivity of the economy has been captured over the last several decades by the economic elite, and has led to a long period of rising inequality”; this, and not government programs, is why poverty is high. If we are going to make progress against poverty,” the author concludes, “we have to change views about what government programs have accomplished, and we have to change views about why people are poor.”