Why America Lost the War on Poverty--And How to Win It

By Frank Stricker

360 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 22 illus., 7 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5804-2
    Published: September 2007
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8229-0
    Published: February 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8077-2
    Published: February 2011

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In a provocative assessment of American poverty and policy from 1950 to the present, Frank Stricker examines an era that has seen serious discussion about the causes of poverty and unemployment. Analyzing the War on Poverty, theories of the culture of poverty and the underclass, the effects of Reaganomics, and the 1996 welfare reform, Stricker demonstrates that most antipoverty approaches are futile without the presence (or creation) of good jobs. Stricker notes that since the 1970s, U.S. poverty levels have remained at or above 11%, despite training programs and periods of economic growth. The creation of jobs has continued to lag behind the need for them.

Stricker argues that a serious public debate is needed about the job situation; social programs must be redesigned, a national health care program must be developed, and economic inequality must be addressed. He urges all sides to be honest--if we don't want to eliminate poverty, then we should say so. But if we do want to reduce poverty significantly, he says, we must expand decent jobs and government income programs, redirecting national resources away from the rich and toward those with low incomes. Why America Lost the War on Poverty--And How to Win It is sure to prompt much-needed debate on how to move forward.

About the Author

Frank Stricker is professor of history at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
For more information about Frank Stricker, visit the Author Page.


"What is most powerful about Stricker's overview is how he consistently presents the political and economic decisions that have sustained poverty over a half century."--Journal of Social History

"Trac[es] poverty policy and programs in the United States from a refreshingly structuralist point of view. . . . An impressive account of the historical mechanics of poverty in the United States and a rich description of how politics and culture shape the poverty discussion and resulting policy interventions."--Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

"No other book so effectively locates antipoverty policy right where it belongs, in America’s political economy. . . . On economic policy, Stricker is provocative and incisive."--Labor

"Frank Stricker's iconoclastic book uses historical analysis to challenge the conventional wisdom about the nature of poverty in America. This is a sobering but engrossing account of an important subject, written with scholarly authority in an entertaining, even inviting, style."--Edward D. Berkowitz, George Washington University

"Highly recommended."--CHOICE