Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty

Forthcoming in June 2017 from Russell Sage Foundation Press – Click Here to Pre-Order 

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Contrary to the familiar urban-suburban narrative about poverty in the U.S., there are more poor persons living in the suburbs of American cities than in the cities themselves today. Poverty rates have increased dramatically in suburbs over the last 20 years, as has the concentration of poverty in suburbs. The rise of poverty in suburbs, however, has not coincided with a decrease of poverty in cities. In fact,  poverty is more prevalent in cities today than in 1990.

Apart from its practical and demographic significance, the changing spatial distribution of poverty in metropolitan America creates new challenges for the delivery of antipoverty assistance and transform safety net politics. This book offers several important original insights into the interconnections between place, poverty, and the safety net in contemporary America using a unique combination of data from the Census Bureau, administrative data from state safety net programs, information about local nonprofit human service financing, as well as field work and in-depth interviews in three focal metropolitan areas (Chicago; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C.). Together, these data provide multiple vantage points from which to consider the realities and consequences of the shifting geography of poverty in metropolitan America. With a careful analysis of how poverty has changed across cities and suburbs, this book provides a foundation for future inquiry and policy activity surrounding the changing geography of poverty in America.

Reviews of the book:

“Scott W. Allard is one of the nation’s foremost experts on poverty, and Places in Need is a tour de force. This carefully-researched book offers more than innovative economic analysis and important lessons for social policy. It represents a deeply moral call to update our thinking about vulnerable people across America and rethink outdated assumptions about how to assist them. Places in Need must become required reading for anyone who seeks to understand modern American poverty, let alone begin to combat it.”

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute

Places in Need tells the story of how poverty has grown dramatically in suburban America due to displacement, immigration, and job loss and how the existing social safety net is ill-equipped to address this new challenge. Scott W. Allard’s analysis expertly marshals both quantitative and qualitative data to give a nuanced account of the difficulties of meeting social needs in suburban locales. His insights and policy recommendations should be carefully studied by policymakers and social service providers as they come to grips with this new reality.”

Paul Jargowsky, Professor of Public Policy, Rutgers University-Camden

“An exceptionally rich book that astutely focuses on key current issues related to the geography of poverty in the United States and trends therein. Scott Allard’s analysis is impressive in both its breadth and depth. His insights regarding the implications of geographic location for anti-poverty policy—how best to support low-income individuals and families in urban, suburban, and rural areas—make Places in Need essential reading for scholars, policymakers, and policy practitioners alike.”

Lawrence M. Berger, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Social Work and Director,
Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin

Click here to download a .pdf containing additional maps and tables referenced in the text and footnotes of Places in Need.  Readers can also view this material at the Places in Need website maintained by the Russell Sage Foundation Press, under the download section.