Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PS from Paul Krugman on Poverty

Poverty is Poison:

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common. According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents in the bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent chance of staying there — and almost a two-thirds chance of remaining stuck if they’re black.

1 comment:

The Money Prof said...

Yes, poverty is a trap, contrary to the popular american myth of the "poor who made it rich". Almost uniformly, stories of this nature are but a testament to the opposite. We tell such stories EXACTLY because they are the exception, not the rule. The "rule", the common, is boring. The exception, the different, is interesting. Especially when it is a compelling story.

The story you mention in the previous blog is exactly as you point out: the exception to the truth.

Poverty is a trap because 99% of the time, poor kids receive much lower level education, with the home being the most important but least recognized factor. They learn bad habits, poor person's mentality, and a view that tells them they cannot succeed. The language skills they "gain" at home and neighborhood are poor and pose a high barrier for their future performance in many areas.

This is why money for schools doesn't solve it - it cannot overcome these effects because the school, and I say that as being a life long educator, is only secondary in its effects.