With the US teetering on the edge of recession, rising unemployment, and a precipitous fall in house prices, poverty is moving up the political agenda. And inequality too, since the land of opportunity is generating more openings for those in the middle and higher income ranges than at the bottom.
Tim Smeeding sets the scene. Of 21 nations with comparable data, the overall poverty rate varies from 5% in Finland to 20% in Mexico. The US poverty rate is 17%, the second highest of the 21, and the highest of all rich nations. The comparison with the UK is startling; policy action over the last ten years has reduced UK child poverty to 11% which, while still too high, is much lower than the US at 18%. Britain has cut its child poverty rate to 45% of the 1999 level, while US kids saw no such gains. What the Brits have done, the Yanks can too.
Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama contribute to the first issue. Priority reading to find out what might happen if the next occupant of the White House declares a new war on poverty.