A fixture in the community of scholars focusing on issues of poverty, inequality, and social policy for more than 40 years – Robert Plotnick – is retiring this spring from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. Bob has long been a mentor and friend, and his retirement announcement provided me with a nudge and opportunity to read, Progress Against Poverty: A Review of the 1964-1974 Decade, published in 1975 with co-author Felicity Skidmore. Apart from being one of the first scholarly efforts to assess the impact of the War on Poverty, Progress Against Poverty has the distinction of being the first book volume commissioned by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (IRP).
Recently, the Furman Center at NYU posted a scholarly give-and-take exchange around issues of suburban poverty, segregation, and the safety net as part of its series The Dream Revisited. Following insight and commentary on race and suburbanization by Alan Berube, Georgette Phillips, and Thomas B. Harvey, my piece in this series turned to how local suburban safety nets are composed.
Recently, I published a short monograph on suburban poverty with a UW doctoral student, Sarah Charnes Paisner. Our monograph examines the suburbanization of poverty in metropolitan areas with a particular focus on the experience of the United States. Discussion highlights key trends and likely causes of suburban poverty and provides an overview of various attempts to classify heterogeneity across suburbs.