Income Distribution and Poverty in Nevada*
In his famous visit to the U.S. early in the nineteenth century, the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville was surprised by what he saw as “an equality of condition” in his travels around the country. Although he commented on the existence of wealth in the new nation, he was impressed by what he saw as its relative lack of concentration (de Tocqueville 1969). Recent studies by social historians, however, suggest that de Tocqueville was mistaken. In their examination of tax forms, old census documents, and probate records, these scholars document a high degree of inequality, particularly wealth inequality (Hurst 2004). Further research suggests that a pattern of highly unequal distributions of wealth and income persisted from the time of the Revolution up through the end of the Civil War, peaking during the period from 1850 to 1870 (Sturm 1977). In subsequent years, patterns of income and wealth inequality fluctuated only slightly until the late 1970's, when they began to rise significantly and have continued to do so ever since (Keister and Moller 2000; Hurst 2004).
Public concern for the poor became a prominent issue during the latter half of the 19th century, although there is very little concrete information about the actual extent of poverty in the U.S. at the time. Researchers have estimated that
- The population in poverty was approximately 45% in 1870, it declined to around 30% by 1910, only to reach about 45% again in the mid 1930’s and decline again to near the 30% mark by the early 1950’s (Ornati 1955; Hurst 2004).
Poverty data based on an official government definition was first collected for 1959. Using that measure (discussed below),
- The U.S. poverty rate fell significantly from 22% to 12% between 1959 and 1969. Since that time, according the 2000 Census figures, the poverty rate decreased from 13.1% in 1989 to 12.4% in 1999.
- Today the national poverty rate is about what it was in the mid-1970’s and half the rate of 1959 (Hurst 2004).
What has changed since the mid-1970’s is the marked decline of concern for the plight of the poor among the American public. The emphasis is now on the prohibitive cost of poverty programs and their relative inefficiency. Some critics have gone as far as to argue that poverty programs exacerbate the problem, making the poor more reliant on public assistance and less willing to work their way out of their situation. Although the social science findings amassed since the 1980s clearly show this to be a misconception, it remains a common view among the voting public, conservative politicians, and mass media commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly (Henslin 2006).
This chapter will review the income distribution in Nevada against the backdrop of the national trends and provide policy recommendations on how we can help the poor escape poverty.
Income Inequality in the U. S. and Nevada
Social scientists use several measures of income inequality. One way to measure it is to look at the distribution of income among sections of the population (U.S. Census Bureau 2001b). If we divide the U.S. population into income groups, we can see a decline in income shares going to the bottom 20%:
- The percentage of total income going to the bottom 80% of the population has declined since 1980.
- The percentage of total income going to the top 20% has increased from 43.7% in 1980 to 49.6% in 2000.
- The top 5% of the population holds 22% of all income.
According to the 2000 Census, the distribution for the nation is as follows (see Table 1):
- The percentage of American workers earning less than $15,000 was 10.7% in 2000.
- The percentage of those with incomes of at least $100,000 during that same period is 5.2%.
The distribution of earnings in the Silver State is not much different from the distribution in the U.S. as a whole. Moreover, the earning distributions for the state of Nevada are very similar to those of Clark County . Generally, the state of Nevada and Clark County have less people in the lower end and less people in the higher end of the wage distribution.
- The percentage of workers earning less than $15,000 is lower in Clark County and Nevada than in the U.S. , standing at 9.1% and 9.5% respectively.
- However, the percentage of workers earning $100,000 or more is lower than the national average for both Clark County and the state of Nevada, with only 3.9% of workers falling into this category.
We can also track income inequality by focusing on current trends in earnings. According to a major study of working America (Mishel, Bernstein, and Schmitt 2001):
- Median wages and salaries have declined over the last two decades.
- Between the late 1970’s and the mid-1990’s, median wages fell for the bottom 2/3 of the work force, especially among those in the lowest categories.
- By contrast, earnings for those in the upper 1/3 of the labor force rose between the late 1970’s and the mid-1990’s.
- Wages of the median CEO went up almost 63% the 1989-1999 decade, with the average CEO making 107 times the wages of the average worker at the end of the 20 th century.
- According to the 2000 Census, Nevada ranked in the top half of the states with its median income of $50,849, which ranked the Silver State 20 th in the nation.
- The state with the highest ranking was Connecticut with $65,521, followed by New Jersey ($63,370), and Maryland ($61,876) (see Table 2).
A third measurement of income inequality used by social scientists is the
the Gini Ratio, which measures the discrepancy between a hypothetical situation where each quintile (one-fifth) of the population receives the same percentage of income and the actual distribution of income among the same categories (Hurst 2004).
- In 1970, the ratio was .394, whereas by 2000 it had been raised to .460 (a score of 0 indicates complete equality and 1 indicates complete inequality).
Many social scientists consider wealth inequality to be a more significant measure of inequality than income disparities because wealth consists of the value of all family assets (including homes, automobiles, businesses, savings, and investments) minus debts (Hurst 2004). Although considerable income inequality exists in the United States, wealth inequality is even greater and has increased noticeably since the 1980’s (Wolff 2000):
- Since 1983, the wealth of those at the top has grown more rapidly than any other group, while the bottom 40% lost 76% in wealth.
- The average wealth of the top 1% of the U.S. population rose to over $10 million, while that of the bottom of 40% fell to $1.100.
- In 1998, the richest 1% held 38% of all household wealth, while the percentage of those with zero or negative wealth rose from 15.5% in 1983 to 18%.
- In 1998, the top 20% of the American population owned over 83%, while the bottom 40% held only 0.1% of all household wealth.
- The Gini ratio in 1998 was .82, indicating an extreme degree of wealth concentration in the United States.
- Among all the advanced industrial nations, the United States has had the greatest degree of wealth inequality since the 1990s (Keister and Moller 2000).
A comparable data on wealth inequality in Nevada does not exist. However, we can obtain a rough approximation by examining occupational inequality in terms of a measure that social scientists call the Index of Dissimilarity. This index measures the minimum percentage that one group would have to change to another category in order to make its distribution identical to another group (Fossett and Seibert 1997). Developing an index of dissimilarity to measure occupational differences is a useful index of wealth inequality, since it covers salary, wages, fringe benefits, and other material rewards that are tied to occupational position.
The 2000 Census showed the following distributions for the major occupational categories in the civilian American labor (see Table 3):
- Nationally, 33.8% of occupations were in management, followed by 26.7% in sales, and 14.9% in services.
- For the state of Nevada during this same time period, there were more sales occupations (27.6%), followed by management (25.7%), service (24.6%), construction (11.4%), production (10.4%), and farm (0.3%).
There is also inequality in the distribution of occupations at the county level in Nevada.
- Clark county has more laborers employed in sales (27.9%), followed by service (26.9%) and management (24.4%).
- Washoe county has more laborers employed in the more prestigious management occupations (29.5%), followed by sales (28.9%), and service (19.9%).
- The index of dissimilarity between Clark and Washoe counties is 8.82, meaning that for both of these counties to achieve an equal distribution in occupations, close to 9% of Clark County workers or Washoe County workers would need to change occupations (see Figure 1).
To understand the relative position of these two counties, it is helpful to compare the distribution of occupations for Clark County and Washoe County (see Figure 2).
- The occupational concentration for Clark County is in the service industry as opposed to Washoe County’s concentration in management occupations.
- Clark County also has a higher concentration of construction occupations compared to Washoe County.
Poverty in the U.S. and Nevada
In 1969, the U.S. government adopted an official definition of poverty based on a formula developed by an economist in the Social Security Administration, http://www.socialsecurity.gov/. A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome, revealed that families of three or more persons spent approximately one-third of their incomes on food. A family was then defined as poor if it spent more than one-third of its income on food (Hurst 2004).
Controversies concerning the official definition of poverty began almost immediately, and they came from several directions.
One major criticism is that the measure does not include non-cash transfers to the poor – food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and school lunches. Such transfers more than doubled from 1970 to 1986 (Sawhill 1988), although they decreased somewhat since then.
The U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/, uses pretax income to calculate the poverty index, even though most economists agree that the person’s net or disposable income would be a more accurate measure. In addition, the one-third formula is applied to all families of a given type, and this ignores differences in size and age distribution of families. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, the official formula was based on an imputed emergency, temporary budget, and not on food costs actually observed among families (Hurst 2004). According to the U.S. 2000 Census,
- 12.6% of the U.S. population, or 33.9 million people, reported family incomes below the poverty thresholds, down 13.1% from 1989.
- However, if age is taken into account, we can see that 16.6% of children, 11.1% of those between 18 to 64, 8.5% of people 65 to 74, and 11.5% of those 75 and over are living below the poverty line.
There are other significant differences among various categories of the poor.
- Non-Latina/o Whites had the lowest poverty rate (8.1%), followed by Asians (12.6%), Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islander (17.7%), African-Americans (24.9%), American Indians and Alaska Natives (25.7%). These figures refer to individuals who only selected one racial category.
- People of Latina/o (of any race) background had poverty rates of 22.6%.
- The percentage of poor persons who live in families headed by female householders has increased dramatically, from 18% in 1959 to 38% in 2002.
- Approximately 60% of all poor African-Americans lived in families headed by female householders in 2000.
- Children in families headed by female householders are five times more likely to be poor than children living in families with a married couple, and their poverty rate is almost 40%.
- Approximately 39% of persons classified as poor had incomes that were less than half of the official poverty level (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001a; Hurst 2004).
Poverty rates may obscure the populations that are residing in poverty areas (census tracts with a poverty rate of 20% or more).
Those residing in such areas often have fewer resources available to them, whatever the person's income or poverty status. A total of 51.9 million people in the United States are living in poverty areas, with 42.9% residing in the South.
- 16 states have 20% or more of their residents living in poverty areas.
- Nevada has 11% of their population living in poverty areas (see Table 4).
Poverty among Nevada's racial and ethnic minorities mirrors the national trends (see Tables):
- Among the various race and ethnic groups, African-Americans have the highest percentage of families in poverty (18%), followed by American Indians and Latina/os (15% each), Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (10%), and finally non-Latina/o Whites (5%).
- Among female-headed households African-Americans also have the highest percentage of families in poverty (13%), followed by American Indians (9%), Latina/os and Native Hawaians and Pacific Islanders (4%) and lastly Asians and non-Latina/os Whites (2% each).
- Among married-couple families, Latina/o families have the highest percentage of families in poverty (8%), followed by Asian, American Indian and Native American and Pacific Islanders (4% each), African-American families (3%) and lastly Non Latina/o White families (2%).
The counties with the highest percentage of individuals in poverty are above the national levels.
- The top five counties with the most people living in poverty are Lincoln (16.5%), followed by Esmeralda (15.3%), Mineral (15.2%), Eureka (12.6%), and Lander (12.5%).
- Storey County has the lowest percent of individuals in poverty, 5.8%., which is less than half of the national average (see Table 6 for details).
Myths about the Poor
A lot of misunderstanding regarding poverty in Nevada and America as a whole is based on myths regarding the poor. Primary among these misconceptions are the following:
Myth 1 – Most people are poor because they are lazy and do not want to work.
- Half of the poor are either too old or too young to work. About 40% are under age, and another 10% are age 65 or older. About 30% of the working-age poor work at least half the year.
Myth 2 – Poor people are trapped in a cycle of poverty that few escape.
- Only 12% of the poor remain in poverty for 5 or more consecutive years.
Myth 3 – Most of the poor are African-Americans and Latinos.
- While the poverty rates of African-Americans and Latinos are much higher than that of whites (see below), about half of all poor people in America are white.
Myth 4 – Most of the poor are single mothers and their children.
- Some 38% of the poor are indeed single mothers with children, but 34% of the poor live in married-couple families, 22% live alone or with non-relatives, and 6% live in other settings.
Myth 5 – Most of the poor live in inner cities.
- 42% of the poor do live in inner cities, 36% live in the suburbs, and 22% live in small towns and rural areas.
Myth 6 – The poor live primarily on welfare.
- About 25% of the income of poor adults comes from welfare, some 22% comes from Social Security, and around 50% comes from wages and pensions (Henslin 2006).
Consequences of Poverty and Inequality
The impact of poverty and inequality on individuals and families is far-reaching and pernicious. Poverty is primarily associated with (1) health problems, (2) educational problems, (3) family stress, (4) parenting difficulties, and (5) housing issues.
Poor children and adults in America receive inadequate and inferior quality health care, and this leads to a higher incidence of illness, disease, and death. Poverty is also associated with higher levels of mental health problems, such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Economic inequality affects psychological and physical health as perceptions of inequality translate into feelings of low self-esteem, insecurity, envy, and unhappiness, which in turn makes a person susceptible to physical illness, either directly or indirectly, by encouraging unhealthy life-styles (Mooney et al 2005; Henslin 2006).
Social science research indicates that children living in poverty are more likely to suffer academically than are children who are not poor.
They often attend schools that are housed in lower-quality facilities and dangerous neighborhoods and that have overcrowded classrooms and a higher teacher turnover rate. Poor parents also have fewer resources to provide such as educational experiences (such as travel), private tutoring, books, and computers for their children. Poor parents generally have less schooling than do nonpoor parents, and this limits their ability to aid their children’s school work. Research suggests that family income predicts achievement outcomes better than parental schooling or family structure. Finally, with the skyrocketing cost of tuition and other fees, many poor parents cannot afford to send their children to college.
Poor adults who want to further their education in order to escape poverty face similar obstacles in addition to the pressures from a full-time job, transportation costs, and unaffordable child care
(Mooney et al 2005; Henslin 2006).
The stresses associated with poverty are a significant factor in a number of family problems, such as divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect. Poverty is also a factor in what many consider questionable parenting practices. Poor parents unable to afford child care expenses are more likely to leave children home without adult supervision,
and some are more likely to use abusive language and corporeal punishment.
Another family problem associated with poverty is teenage pregnancy. Poor adolescent girls are more likely to have babies as teenagers or become young single mothers. Early childbearing is linked to numerous other problems such as increased risk of premature or low birth weight or low birth weight babies, dropping out of school and lower future earning potential as a result of lack of academic achievement (Mooney et al. 2005).
The lack of quality, affordable housing is one more major consequence of poverty in America . Many poor families and individuals live in high crime neighborhoods in housing units that lack central heating or air conditioning, adequate sewer or septic systems, and telephones. Housing units of the poor are also more likely to have holes in the floor, improper electrical outlets, a leaky roof, and open cracks in the walls or ceilings. More ominously, city officials from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, http://www.usmayors.org/, cite lack of affordable housing as the major cause of homelessness (Mooney et al. 2006; Henslin 2006).
Federal Poverty Reduction Programs
Nevada residents living in poverty may qualify for a variety of federally-funded government programs, including (1) cash support, (2) food programs, (3) housing assistance, (4) medical care, (5) educational assistance, (6) job training, (7) child care, (8) child support enforcement, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96456,00.html. Publicly funded cash support programs include Supplement Security Income (SSI), http://www.ssa.gov/notices/supplemental-security-income/, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/. Administered by the Social Security Administration, http://www.ssa.gov/, SSI provides a minimum income to poor people who are aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled. Under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=1996_Welfare_Reform_Act, the definition of disability has been sharply restricted and eligibility standards tightened.
Before the 1996 reform act, a cash assistance program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/AFDC/afdcbase98.htm, provided single parents and their children with a minimum monthly income. After 1996, it was replaced by the TANF program.
- In 2001, TANAF provided needy families an average monthly amount of $351.
- Within 2 years of receiving benefits, adult TANF recipients must either be employed or involved in work-related activities, such as on-the-job training, job search, or vocational education. A lifetime limit of 5 years is set for families receiving benefits.
- Able-bodied recipients aged 18 to 50 and without dependents have a 2 year lifetime limit (exceptions may be made for individuals with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, residents of high unemployment areas, and those caring for young children).
- Legal immigrants who entered the country before August 22, 1996 may receive TANF benefits, but those who arrived after this date may only receive services after they have been in the United States for five years (Mooney et al.2005).
According to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
- In 2002, nearly 3.8 million families were hungry – an increase of 13% from 2000, and someone in such a household skipped meals because the family could not afford to buy food.
Several food assistance programs help families and individuals who cannot afford an adequate diet, including food stamps, school lunch and breakfast programs, the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), http://www.frac.org/html/federal_food_programs/programs/wic.html, and nutrition programs for elderly. The largest food assistance plan is the Food Stamp Program, http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/, which issues monthly benefits through coupons or Electric Benefits Transfer (EBT), http://www.consumer-action.org/English/CANews/1998_July_EBT-EFT/index.php, using a plastic card similar to a credit card and a personal identification number (PIN).
- In 2002, a typical food stamp household had a gross income of $633 per month and received a monthly food stamp benefit of $173.
- Only about one in five food stamp households received TANF benefits at the time. As of 2002, all poor immigrant children may receive food stamp benefits regardless of their date of entry in the United States (Mooney et al. 2005).
Housing costs are a major burden for poor Americans.
- In most major cities, those in poor households spend almost half (46%) of their income on housing.
Federal housing programs include public housing, Section 8 Housing, http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih/programs/hcv/index.cfm, and other private project-based housing. Started in 1937, the public housing program provides federally subsidized housing owned and operated by local public housing authorities. Public housing has a controversial history. To save costs and avoid public opposition, high-rise public housing units were built in inner-city projects, concentrating poor families in deteriorating neighborhoods and exacerbating problems of crime, drugs, vandalism, and violence. Section 8 housing relies on existing housing where federal rent subsidies are provided either to tenants (in the form of certificates and vouchers) or to private landlords. Unlike public housing, Section 8 and other private project-based housing attempt to disperse low-income families, but opposition by residence in middle-class neighborhoods has limited most Section 8 housing units to low-income neighborhoods (Mooney et al. 2005).
Medical care assistance programs include Indian Health Services, http://www.ihs.gov/, maternal and child health services, and Medicaid, http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/. Medicaid provides medical services and hospital care for the poor through reimbursements to hospitals and physicians. However, under the new reform act guidelines, many low-income families and individuals do not qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford health insurance. In the former AFDC program, all recipients were automatically entitled to Medicaid. Under the present TANF program, states decide who is eligible for Medicaid, though the Federal government guarantees welfare recipients at least one year of transitional Medicaid when leaving welfare for work (Mooney et al. 2005).
Educational assistance programs include Head Start, http://www2.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/hsb/, and Early Head Start, http://www.ehsnrc.org/, as well as a number of college assistance programs. Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide educational services for disadvantaged infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children and their parents. To reduce economic barriers for low-income persons wanting to attend college, the federal government offers a variety of grants, loans, and work opportunities. The Pell Grant, http://www.collegeboard.com/article/0,3868,6-30-0-36318,00.html, program aids students from low-income families, while the guaranteed student loan program enables college students and their families to obtain low-interest loans with deferred interest payments. The federal college work-study program provides jobs for students with demonstrated need (Mooney et al. 2005).
Various employment and job training programs are available to help individuals escape poverty: summer youth employment programs, Job Corps, http://jobcorps.doleta.gov/, and training for disadvantaged adults and youth. These programs are covered by the Job Training and Partnership Act, http://www.thecre.com/fedlaw/legal12/jtpalaw.htm, a federally funded program passed in 1982 and amended in 1992 (Mooney et al. 2005).
The United States lacks quality, affordable child care, and this is a major obstacle to employment for single parents, a heavy burden on many dual-income families and employed single parents.
- The cost of full day care in a day care center ranges from $4,000 to $10,000 per year. This major expense forces many low-income families to place their children in cheaper, often lower quality care, while nearly 7 million children are left home alone each week.
Some public and private sector programs provide limited assistance with child care. The Dependent Care Assistance Plan, http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/dca.html, provisions of the 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act, http://www.fpanet.org/journal/articles/1981_Issues/jfpsu81-art1.cfm, allows individuals to exclude the value of employer-provided child care services from their gross income. However, few employers provide on-site child care or subsidies for child care. Congress increased the amount of the child care tax credit and modified the tax code to allow taxpayers to shelter pretax dollars in flexible spending plans, while the Family Support Act of 1988, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12289195&dopt=Abstract, offered additional funding for child care services for the poor in conjunction with mandatory work requirements. In 1990, Congress passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ccb/policy1/current/finalrul/, which targeted child care funds to low-income groups and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 appropriated funds for child care. These assistance programs are inadequate, however, as
- Only 14% of the nearly 16 million children under age 13 who are eligible for assistance receive any help (Mooney et al. 2005).
- Half of all American children living below the poverty line in 2001 lived with their mothers and had fathers living elsewhere, making them eligible to receive child support. Yet less than 1/3 of poor children living with single mothers received child support.
To encourage child support from absent parents, the welfare reform act of 1996 requires states to set up child support enforcement programs. The law established a Federal Case Registry, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/newhire/fcr/fcr.htm, and National Directory of New Hires, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/newhire/ndnh/ndnh.htm, to track delinquent parents across state lines. These measures increased the wage withholding to collect child support and allowed states to seize assets and revoke driving licenses, professional licenses, and recreational licenses of parents who fall behind in their child support. These efforts to improve child support compliance have been only modestly successful as
- The percentage of poor children in single-mother households receiving child support increased from 31% in 1996 to 36% in 2001 (Mooney et al. 2005).
Created n 1975, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96406,00.html, is a refundable tax credit based on a working family’s income and number of children. It is designed to offset Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on working families and to strengthen work incentives.
- Almost one out of every seven families who file federal income tax returns claims the federal EITC, which lifts more children out of poverty than any other program (Mooney et al. 2005).
In Nevada these programs are administered primarily through the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. In Clark County, the poverty reduction programs are administered through the Economic Opportunity Board.
In addition to government-sponsored programs, Nevada residents in need also have recourse to a variety of non-profit, charitable agencies such as the United Way, http://www.uwsn.org/ and http://www.uwayreno.org/, the Salvation Army, http://pathprogram.samhsa.gov/prog_info/exemplary_programs/salvation_army.asp, and Catholic Charities of Nevada, http://www.catholiccharitiesinfo.org/jobs/vol_opps.htm, who provide an additional array of services and programs.
The Work Ahead and Policy Implications
Several measures can be adopted in both the public and private sectors to address the issues surrounding poverty in Nevada:
- Increase advocacy from politicians, business, and community leaders for programs that treat the causes and consequences of poverty.
- Inhance accuracy in the mass media coverage of the poverty and the plight of the poor in Nevada.
- Improve data gathering and fund research on the causes and consequences of poverty.
- Promote partnerships between the public and private sectors to help the poor and reduce poverty in Nevada.
- Mount an awareness campaign to rectify the misperceptions regarding the American poor and highlight the key role that federal poverty reduction programs play in improving the quality of life for all Americans.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” We need to reflect on this advice and its meaning for our time.
The poverty and economic inequality in the United States , the richest country in the world, will no doubt continue to provoke heated debates in the coming years. One challenge we face is how to change the misperception shared by many Americans who blame the poor for their plight. Social scientists must do a better job of getting across the message that poverty and inequality are due to many causes, that the poor are not always responsible for their conditions, and that it is in our collective interest to aid the Americans living in poverty.
We need to heed the advice from the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who observed that the ethical strength of a society is measured, in part, by how it treats its lowliest members. By this humane yardstick, the Nevadans concerned with the social health of their state ought to do what they can to help improve the lot of their less fortunate citizens.
Data sources and Suggested Readings
Cauthen, Kenneth. 1987. The Passion for Equality. Totowa; N. J.: Rowan and Littlefield.
de Tocqueville, Alexis. 1969 . Democracy in America. New York: Doubleday.
Fossett, Mark A. and M. Therese Seibert. 1997. Long Time Coming: Racial Inequality in the
Nonmetropolitan South, 1940-1990. Boulder, C.O.: Westvview Press.
Henslin, James. 2006. Essentials of Sociology Boston: Pearson.
Hurst, Charles. 2004. Social Inequality. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Keister, Lisa and Stephanie Moller. 2000. “Wealth Inequality in the United States .” Pp. 63-81 in Annual Review of Sociology, edited by K. Cook and J. Hagan. Palo Alto, C.A.: Annual Reviews.
Lowe, Marian and Ruth Hubbard, eds. 1983. Women’s Nature: Rationalization of Inequality. New York: Pergamon.
Mishel, Lawrence, Jared Bernstein and John Schmitt. 2001. The State of Working America, 2000-2001. Ithaca , NY: Cornell University Press.
Mooney, Linda, David Knox and Caroline Schacht. 2005. Understanding Social Problems. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Ornati, Oscar. 1966. Poverty Amid Affluence. New York: The Twentieth Century Fund.
Sawhill, Isabel. 1988. “Poverty in the U.S.: Why Is It So Persistent ?” Journal of Economic Literature 26: 1073-1119.
Sturm, James. 1977. Investing in the United States, 1798-1893. New York: Arno Press.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 2001a. Poverty in the United States. Current Population Reports, Series P-60. No. 214. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 2001b. Money Income in the United States: 2000. Current Population Reports, Series P-60. No. 213. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Wolff, Edward. 2000. “Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 12: 131-150.
This chapter has been prepared by David Dickerns, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 455033, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5033. Tel. 702-895-0262, David.Dickens@ccmail.nevada.edu; and Cristina Morales, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UNLV, Tel., 702-895-3322, firstname.lastname@example.org.