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The Poverty Paradox

Understanding Economic Hardship Amid American Prosperity

Mark Robert Rank

25 July 2023

ISBN: 9780190212636

200 pages

Price: £21.99



The paradox of poverty amidst plenty - namely, that the wealthiest country in the world also has the highest rates of poverty among the industrialized nations - has plagued the United States throughout the 21st century. In The Poverty Paradox, Mark Rank, one of the nation's leading authorities on the subject, offers a unique analysis to arrive at a compelling answer and from there he suggests potential policy solutions.

  • Reframes a central question from "who loses the economic game" to "why does the game produce losers at all"
  • Argues that poverty is a structural, not an individual, problem and addressing it therefore requires systemic changes
  • Utilizes the most up-to-date social science research and tools support the author's argument

About the Author(s)

Mark Robert Rank, Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis

Mark Robert Rank is currently the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on issues of poverty, inequality, and social justice. He has been the recipient of many awards, and his research has been reported in a wide range of media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio.

Table of Contents

    Part I: Overview
    Chapter 1: Introduction
    Chapter 2: Defining, Measuring, and Counting
    Chapter 3: The Traditional Perspective
    Part II: The Structural Vulnerability Framework
    Chapter 4: Economic Vulnerability and the Role of Human Capital
    Chapter 5: Cumulative Inequality
    Chapter 6: Two Levels of Understanding
    Part III: The Broader Context
    Chapter 7: Building the Foundation
    Chapter 8: Policy Implications
    Chapter 9: Looking Back, Looking Ahead


"Mark Rank, one of America's great poverty scholars, has done it again. In crystal clear prose, The Poverty Paradox walks readers through what we know about poverty in the United States, forwards a framework to understand why it persists, and offers evidence-strategies for how we can confront it. It will offer fresh insights to new students, long-time experts, and policymakers alike." - H. Luke Shaefer, Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan