Poverty and Welfare in America
Examining the Facts
by David Wagner
September 2019, 196pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5644-0
$65, £49, 55€, A93
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5645-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

More than one in five children in America live in poverty.

This book closely examines controversial claims and beliefs surrounding poverty and anti-poverty programs in the United States. It authoritatively dismantles falsehoods, half-truths, and misconceptions, leaving readers with an unbiased, accurate understanding of these issues.

Poverty and Welfare in America: Examining the Facts, like every book in the Contemporary Debates series, is intended to puncture rather than perpetuate myths that diminish our understanding of important policies and positions; to provide needed context for misleading statements and claims; and to confirm the factual accuracy of other assertions.

This book clarifies some of the most contentious and misunderstood aspects of American poverty and the social welfare programs that have been crafted to combat it over the years. In addition to providing up-to-date data about the extent of American poverty among various demographic groups in the United States, it examines the chief causes of poverty in the 21st century, including divorce, disability, and educational shortfalls. Moreover, the book provides an evenhanded examination of the nation’s social welfare agencies and the effectiveness of various social service programs managed by those agencies in addressing and reducing poverty.


  • Features an easy-to-navigate question-and-answer format
  • Uses quantifiable data from respected sources as the foundation for examining every issue
  • Includes extensive Further Reading sections for each entry, providing readers with leads to conduct further research
  • Evaluates claims made by individuals and groups of all political backgrounds and ideologies to offer an inclusive examination of poverty and welfare
David Wagner PhD, is emeritus professor of social work and sociology at the University of Southern Maine. He is author of ten books including Checkerboard Square: Culture and Resistance in a Homeless Community, which won the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and dozens of academic articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. Wagner has consulted with a number of groups across the nation on issues related to poverty and homelessness.

Contemporary Debates

Each title in the Contemporary Debates series examines the veracity of controversial claims or beliefs surrounding a major political/cultural issue in the United States. The purpose of the series is to give readers a clear and unbiased understanding of current issues by informing them about falsehoods, half-truths, and misconceptions—and confirming the factual validity of other assertions—that have gained traction in America's political and cultural discourse. Ultimately, this series gives readers the tools for a fuller understanding of controversial issues, policies, and laws that occupy center stage in American life and politics.
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