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Legacies of the War on Poverty 

Edited by Martha J. Bailey and Sheldon Danziger

Publication Year: 2013

Many believe that the War on Poverty, launched by President Johnson in 1964, ended in failure. In 2010, the official poverty rate was 15 percent, almost as high as when the War on Poverty was declared. Historical and contemporary accounts often portray the War on Poverty as a costly experiment that created doubts about the ability of public policies to address complex social problems. Legacies of the War on Poverty, drawing from fifty years of empirical evidence, documents that this popular view is too negative. The volume offers a balanced assessment of the War on Poverty that highlights some remarkable policy successes and promises to shift the national conversation on poverty in America.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Table of Contents

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pp. 1-8

Tables and Figures

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pp. ix-x

About the Authors

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pp. xi-xii

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Chapter 1. Legacies of the War on Poverty

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pp. 1-36

In his first State of the Union Address, Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” that aimed “not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it” (Johnson 1964a). Within several years, Johnson’s sweeping legislative achievements transformed American schools and universities, ...

Part I. Increasing Human Capital, Employment, and Earnings

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pp. 37-38

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Chapter 2. Head Start Origins and Impacts

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pp. 39-65

Head Start is an early childhood education, health, and parenting intervention started in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), and remains one of the federal government’s primary tools aimed at reducing disparities in children’s outcomes before they enroll in K-12 education. ...

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Chapter 3. The K-12 Education Battle

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pp. 66-92

In a special congressional address on January 12, 1965, President Johnson declared a “national goal of Full Educational Opportunity.” In so doing, he expanded the battlefield in the War on Poverty to include education at all levels, offering as a new weapon a large infusion of federal funds to support programs for the poor. ...

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Chapter 4. Supporting Access to Higher Education

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pp. 93-120

With the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) and the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA 1965), President Johnson began an unprecedented period of support to help students pay for higher education. Unlike previous policies, which targeted only a limited set of students, ...

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Chapter 5. Workforce Development Programs

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pp. 121-150

In early 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson first announced the War on Poverty, employment and training programs for the poor barely existed in the United States at the federal level. The only federal manpower program of the era, the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA), was launched in 1962 with relatively little funding or fanfare. ...

Part II. Raising Incomes and Living Standards

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pp. 151-152

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Chapter 6. The Safety Net for Families with Children

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pp. 153-178

In his 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a statement that still seems remarkable today: “This administration, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America . . . It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won” (Johnson 1964a). ...

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Chapter 7. The Safety Net for the Elderly

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pp. 179-205

When Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in 1964, the poverty rate was 19 percent, a rate deemed far too high for a nation with the wealth and resources of the United States. Yet far worse was the poverty rate for those age sixty-five or older, which stood at 35 percent in 1959 (data for 1964 are not available), ...

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Chapter 8. Performance and Legacy of Housing Policies

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pp. 206-234

This chapter assesses the War on Poverty’s performance and legacy in the area of urban housing policy. Several decades after President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty, President Ronald Reagan in his own 1988 State of the Union address famously claimed that the War on Poverty represented a massive failure of government policies to achieve their goals: ...

Part III. Improving Access to Medical Care and Health

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pp. 235-236

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Chapter 9. Health Programs for Non-Elderly Adults and Children

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pp. 237-267

Almost twenty years after President Harry Truman spoke these words in his call to Congress for national health insurance, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicaid and Medicare bills into law. The programs were designed to provide health-care coverage for senior citizens, the disabled, children, and the poor as part of Johnson’s Great Society agenda, ...

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Chapter 10. Medicare and Medicaid

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pp. 268-298

The War on Poverty created two health insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid, which have had profound effects on the elderly and non-elderly (for details about both programs, see box 10.1). The War on Poverty also created community health centers (CHC) to expand the supply of physicians, nurses, and dentists in rural and low-income areas ...


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pp. 299-310

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448147
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871540072

Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2013