Cover image for One nation, underprivileged : why American poverty affects us all
One nation, underprivileged : why American poverty affects us all
Rank, Mark R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
ix, 356 pages ; 25 cm
Disturbing contrasts -- Below the line -- Poverty as a structural failing -- In our self-interest -- True to values -- Essence of citizenship -- A new paradigm -- Future directions -- From the ground up.
Reading Level:
1330 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV91 .R363 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Despite its enormous wealth, the United States leads the industrialized world in poverty. One Nation, Underprivileged unravels this disturbing paradox by offering a unique and radically different understanding of American poverty. It debunks many of our most common myths about the poor,while at the same time provides a powerful new framework for addressing this enormous social and economic problem. Mark Robert Rank vividly shows that the fundamental causes of poverty are to be found in our economic structure and political policy failures, rather than individual shortcomings or attitudes. He establishes for the first time that a significant percentage of Americans will experience povertyduring their adult lifetimes, and firmly demonstrates that poverty is an issue of vital national concern. Ultimately, Rank provides us with a new paradigm for understanding poverty, and outlines an innovative set of strategies that will reduce American poverty. One Nation, Underprivileged represents a profound starting point for rekindling a national focus upon America's most vexing social and economicproblem.

Author Notes

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

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Professor Rank, author of Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America 0 (1994), meticulously builds the case that, despite America's great wealth, society as a whole has abnegated its responsibility to ease the burdens of the nation's poor even while creating an economic system that structurally ensures that a great portion of its citizens will live in poverty. The author debunks the traditional belief that the poor are largely responsible for their own condition. He equates the economy to a game of musical chairs, with a limited amount of jobs substituting for chairs. Thus in this book an amazing statistic is brought out for the first time: nearly one-half of all people in America spend at least one year of their lives in poverty. Rank argues for a recapturing of our Judeo-Christian ethic and that individuals must pay more than lip service to the principles of liberty, justice, equality, and democracy so that the promise of the Pledge of Allegiance will not be "liberty and justice for some0 ," but for all.0 --Allen Weakland Copyright 2004 Booklist

Choice Review

Rank's claim that this book promotes a "unique and radically different understanding of American poverty" consists mainly of an emphasis on structural factors affecting poverty and a presentation of his research showing that almost 60 percent of Americans experience a year of poverty between ages 20 and 75. Rank (social work, Washington Univ.) reviews definitions, statistics, and effects of poverty; examines religious and civic reasons for helping the poor; critiques an "individual responsibility" perspective; and outlines a set of realistic programs to address poverty. Surprisingly, the author does not address conservatives' argument that the universal experience of poverty argues against government intervention. He sometimes passes over evidence that complicates his arguments and quotes dubious statistics, like "one in three of our kids live in families that do constant battle with hunger." After rallying readers with the idea that poverty affects us all, his policies are mostly means tested or targeted. The book is well written, at times eloquent, but misses the chance to engage the subject at a deeper level. An excellent work for undergraduates or general readers who are not planning to focus on poverty programs or research. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public and undergraduate collections. K. J. Bauman independent scholar

Table of Contents

Part I The Nature of American Poverty
Chapter 1 Disturbing Contrastsp. 3
Chapter 2 Below the Linep. 17
Chapter 3 Poverty as a Structural Failingp. 49
Part II A Cause for Concern
Chapter 4 In Our Self-Interestp. 85
Chapter 5 True to Valuesp. 123
Chapter 6 Essence of Citizenshipp. 145
Part III Creating Fundamental Change
Chapter 7 A New Paradigmp. 169
Chapter 8 Future Directionsp. 193
Chapter 9 From the Ground Upp. 243
Appendix A Sources of Datap. 255
Appendix B Additional Life Table Analysesp. 267
Notesp. 281
Bibliographyp. 301
Indexp. 347