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Poverty in America: Empirical Trends and Theoretical Explanations

Date & time

Jun 14-19, 2024, 12:00-11:15 am EDT


Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Ann Arbor, MI
June 14- 18, 2004
Ann Arbor, MI

Download the reading list for this workshop.

This workshop was designed as an intense mini-graduate course on poverty, providing the background to persons who want to offer undergraduate courses or engage in poverty-related research but who did not receive substantive training about poverty research in their graduate work.

The instructors for the workshop were University of Michigan faculty: Mary Corcoran, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science and Kerwin Charles, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics. In addition, the workshop include presentations by other nationally recognized poverty researchers.

The number of selected participants was limited to about fifteen. Participants received stipends to defray the costs of travel, lodging, and per diem.

Course content
The workshop addressed three major areas.


- How are poverty and inequality measured, and do these different measures accurately reflect how the condition affects well-being?
- What are the differences in poverty across different subpopulations?
- How has poverty changed over time - both in terms of aggregate patterns and changes in the distribution of poverty across the population?


The labor market
- How do the spatial distribution of the location of jobs, the occupational mix of employment opportunity, and skill requirements affect poverty? What role have changes in these factors played in aggregate poverty trends?

The family
- What is the importance of intergenerational transmission of economic disadvantage? How important for poverty determination are demographic decisions such as age of marriage and fertility?

Social factors
- What role do networks, culture, and social capital play in poverty determination?


A review of major anti-poverty initiatives and their effects

Workshop details and goals
The workshop was be held in Ann Arbor, MI from June 14 - 18, 2004. The course consisted of:

- About 20 hours of lecture and intensive classroom discussion.

- Some time devoted to one-on-one discussion designed to help attendees refine their teaching and research interests with the instructors and with other researchers at the National Poverty Center.

- Four afternoon presentations by noted poverty researchers. (The workshop coincided with a second NPC workshop, "Analyzing Poverty and Welfare Trends Using Census 2000;" participants from both workshops attended the afternoon presentations together.)

The curriculum is designed to provide participants with: (1) knowledge and materials for teaching a course on poverty, including draft course outlines, and/ or (2) knowledge and resources for undertaking poverty research on their own.

Application instructions
The workshop was designed for applicants who meet at least three of the following criteria:

- Young scholars (primarily assistant professors);

- Persons who did not have the opportunity to take a class in poverty research during their graduate school training;

- Persons who are currently employed at universities and colleges that do not provide support for faculty to pursue additional training in poverty research, especially four-year teaching colleges;

- Persons who are members of groups that are under-represented among poverty researchers and teachers. Faculty members from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) are particularly encouraged to apply.


Funding for this workshop is provided by a co-operative agreement with the National Poverty Center from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and by the University of Michigan.