Are the Poor ‘Losing Ground’?

Political Science Quarterly, Fall 1985.


In the year since it was published, Losing Ground has become a political football in the debate about social policy toward the poor, and many of the substantive issues it raises have gotten lost in the melee. What follows recapitulates some of the major sources of controversy as of this writing (April 1985) and my response to them. I should emphasize at the outset that this is not an attempt to prove that Losing Ground is “right.” The book covers too much ground and makes too many speculative interpretations to lend itself to airtight proof. What can be done at this point is to present reasons why the attempts to prove it is “wrong” are inadequate and to identify some of the gaps in knowledge that need to be filled in.