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The State of Poverty in the 21st Century America: A Research Proposal Essay

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In Douglas Besharov’s article entitled ‘Poverty, Welfare Dependency, and the Underclass’ published in 1996, he mentions that there are three possible ways in examining the state of poverty: first is by using statistics of those who fall in the official poverty line set by the government; second is by using statistics of those who depend on welfare benefits set by the government; third and final is by using statistics of those who are part of the so-called ‘underclass’ (Besharov 13).

Using these three principles suggested by Besharov, it would be good to do a research on the state of poverty in the United States of America, especially that Besharov’s proposal dates back to the year 1996.

 The overall theme would be to answer issues regarding the current state of poverty in America nowadays, with the objective of knowing the exact strategy that should be implemented for the nation to improve and recover.

Possible questions that we can discuss can consist of, but are not limited to, one or more of the following: (1) What exactly is the official poverty line set by the government?  (2) What available welfare benefits are being offered in the different states, and were these enough to cover the total number of applicants for every state?  (

3) What are the most accurate reasons on why poverty has continued to evolve even when there is economic growth?  (4) Has the social and economic trends been for or against the improvement of America’s state of poverty?  (5) Finally, what can be done to improve the state of poverty and the strategy used in measuring the state of poverty?

Besharov in his article ‘Measuring Poverty in America’ says that there are technical flaws in the official poverty measure used by the government (2).

  Does this say, then, that the state of poverty is not as worse as it may appear?  With Holzer suggesting that economic ‘stagnancy’ is more on the African-American middle class, which trends are for or against economic progress at this point in time?  Eberstadt points out, on the other hand, that there was no progress for three decades or from 1973 to 2004 (2).  Is America a poor country now?

Works Cited

Besharov, Douglas.  Measuring Poverty In America.  Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2007.

Besharov, Douglas.  “Poverty, Welfare Dependency, and the Underclass.”  Reducing Poverty In America: Views and Approaches.  Ed. Michael R. Darby, 1996.  13-56.

Eberstadt, Nicholas.  Material Deprivation in Modern America: Looking Beyond the ‘Poverty Line’.  Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2006.

Holzer, Harry.  Expanding the African-American Middle Class: Improving Labor Market Outcomes.  15 July 2005.  Welfare Reform Academy.  24 October 2007 <>.

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