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Article

Poverty  

Mark R. Rank

Poverty has been a subject of concern since the beginnings of social work. This entry reviews three key research areas. First, the extent and dynamics of poverty are examined, including the measurement of poverty, patterns of cross-sectional and comparative poverty rates, the longitudinal dynamics of poverty, and poverty as a life-course risk. Second, reasons for poverty are discussed. These are divided into individual versus structural level explanations. The concept of structural vulnerability is offered as a way of bridging key individual and structural determinants in order to better understand the existence of poverty. Third, strategies and solutions to poverty are briefly reviewed.

Article

Praveen Kumar, Smitha Rao, and Gautam N. Yadama

Energy poverty is lack of access to adequate, high-quality, clean, and affordable forms of energy or energy systems. It is a prominent risk factor for global burden of disease and has severe environmental, social, and economic implications. Despite recent international attention to address energy for the poor, there is a limited consensus over a unified framework defining energy poverty, which impacts almost 2.8 billion mostly poor people, especially in Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the largest number of energy poor. India, in South Asia, comprises a significant proportion of energy-impoverished households. There is a continued effort by the Indian government, non-profit agencies, and private organizations to address the needs of energy poor. Social workers have a significant role to play in these interventions addressing energy poverty in India. Emerging research and practice in the energy poverty field in India calls for transdisciplinary collaboration especially between social work practitioners of community development, environmental health, public health, and social policy.

Article

Karen Lyons and Nathalie Huegler

The term social exclusion achieved widespread use in Europe from the late twentieth century. Its value as a concept that is different from poverty, with universal relevance, has since been debated. It is used in Western literature about international development, and some authors have linked it to the notion of capabilities. However, it is not widely used in the social work vocabulary. Conversely, the notion of social inclusion has gained in usage and application. This links with values that underlie promotion of empowerment and participation, whether of individuals, groups, or communities. Both terms are inextricably linked to the realities of inequalities within and between societies and to the principles of human rights and social justice that feature in the international definition of social work.

Article

Edna Comer

Paulo Freire (1921–1997), a Brazilian educator and author, is known for his theoretical contributions to education. His text Pedagogy of the Oppressed is considered one of the foundational texts of the critical pedagogy movement.

Article

Maryah Stella Fram

This entry provides an overview of current knowledge and thinking about the nature, causes, and consequences of food insecurity as well as information about the major policies and programs aimed at alleviating food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is considered at the nexus of person and environment, with discussion focusing on the biological, psychological, social, and economic factors that are interwoven with people’s access to and utilization of food. The diversity of experiences of food insecurity is addressed, with attention to issues of age, gender, culture, and community context. Finally, implications for social work professionals are suggested.

Article

Leah Igdalsky

Social workers working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families require an understanding of the disabilities themselves as well as the larger context of disability in society. Individuals with disabilities face particular risks for poverty and poor healthcare, and it is essential for social workers to understand the complex web of social services available. Furthermore, social workers often work not only with the person with a disability but also with their caregiving families.

Article

North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.

Article

Frederick A. DiBlasio and John R. Belcher

Mitchell “Mitch” Snyder (1943–1990) was an activist who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience. He was a member of the Creative Community for Non-Violence, which helps cities to provide emergency facilities for poor and homeless people.

Article

Laura Lein, Jennifer Romich, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and Dominique Crump

The Social Work Grand Challenge to reduce economic inequality is one of 13 Grand Challenges guiding future practice, research, and education. This article on the Grand Challenge to reduce extreme economic inequality documents the problem, probes the mechanisms by which inequality continues and deepens, and proposes approaches for addressing this problem so interwoven into our economy and society. This article describes economic inequality in the U.S. context as well as social work–oriented responses. It briefly compares the inequality level of the U.S. with that of other countries. It explores the distinctions between poverty and economic inequality and the particular ways in which economic inequality is maintained and grows in the U.S. It also explores the kinds of policy and program initiatives addressing this grand challenge, the barriers to and potential benefits of such ideas, and the roles for social workers and the social work profession in reducing extreme economic inequality in our society.

Article

Melinda Lewis and Sondra G. Beverly

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for working families with low and moderate incomes. The credit provides a substantial income supplement to families with children and thus helps families finance basic necessities or invest in longer-term household development. In recent years, political support for the EITC has declined. Social workers should be prepared to advocate against policy changes that would reduce the impact of the EITC. Social workers could also support EITC outreach campaigns and advocate for more and expanded state EITCs.

Article

Maria Maiss

Ilse Arlt (1876–1960) was an Austrian pioneer of research-based social work. Her investigation of various social causes and the effects of poverty—understood as the absence of the ability to prosper—shaped her life for more than 70 years. Her extensive published work, like all her projects, aimed to prevent poverty to the greatest possible extent by raising awareness and to offer social welfare that promoted all individuals’ ability to prosper.

Article

Larry E. Davis, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and John M. Wallace Jr.

Since their arrival 400 years ago, African Americans have endured 246 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of apartheid followed by decades of systematic racial discrimination and injustice. Nevertheless, Africans and their descendants have contributed significantly to the building of the United States and have greatly influenced every sector of society. To document this tenuous position, we summarize key demographic, economic, and social trends as well as the potential role of macro social work to improve outcomes. Present-day racism in the United States is persistent and frequently underestimated, so combatting anti-Blackness and White supremacy at structural and societal levels is essential.

Article

Donna Harrington and Karen Castellanos-Brown

This article focuses on the early childhood years, from 2 to 5 years of age. There are over 12 million children in this age range in the United States, many of whom face a number of challenges. In this article we discuss cognitive, language, motor, and social development, including relevant theories and major language and motor developmental milestones. We also discuss several family and environmental factors that influence development, including attachment, parenting, working parents, and poverty.

Article

Gary Mathews

Maryann Mahaffey (1925–2006) was elected to Detroit City Council in 1974, where she served until January, 2006. She used her political influence to address the issues of poverty, women's rights, civil rights, and the peace movement.

Article

Darlyne Bailey

Arthur J. Naparstek (1939–2004), community planning expert, worked in neighborhood revitalization and created the federal Hope VI program that changed U.S. public housing. He was dean and professor at Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (1983–2004).

Article

Fred Newdom

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, pursued her own work investigating social conditions and the programs designed to address them. She served as the U.S. representative to the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations.

Article

Maryann Syers

Richard Morris Titmuss (1907–1973) was a scholar, administrator, and educator who developed the subject area of social policy and administration as an intellectually respectable field of inquiry. He was chair of Social Administration at the London School of Economics.

Article

Lynne M. Healy

Mary Ann van Kleeck (1883–1972) was director of the Department of Industrial Studies at the Russell Sage Foundation. She studied the effect of technology on employment and her labor research led to legislation protecting women workers.

Article

William Elliot III and Melinda Lewis

Children’s Development Accounts (CDAs) are a policy vehicle for allocating intellectual and financial resources to low- and moderate-income children. Unlike basic savings accounts, CDAs leverage investments by individuals, families, and, sometimes, third parties. By giving families savings incentives and building universal and progressive vehicles for saving, CDAs may improve the financial health of low-income families and the educational outcomes of their children, reducing or even eliminating asset advantages currently enjoyed by wealthier families.

Article

Shrivridhi Shukla and Arpita Gupta

India’s rapid economic growth is accompanied by economic inequality, poverty, and a range of social issues, thus, raising important questions concerning the breadth and depth of social protection and promotion policies prevalent in the country. The social welfare system in India is different for the formal and informal sectors of the economy. It consists of two largely parallel systems. With respect to the formal economy or the organized sector, it operates directly through the government, state-owned enterprises, and/ or private corporations that provide reasonably strong social protection to their employees through mandatory legislations spanning aspects such as payment of gratuity, employees’ provident fund, and the employees’ state insurance fund. In contrast, the informal or the unorganized sector is covered through a fragmented system of welfare schemes and benefits provided by the central government and the respective state governments. Along with tracing the historical evolution of India’s welfare system, this article outlines the constitutional place of welfare in the country. With respect to the informal sector of the economy, it provides an overview of some of the key promotion and protection-orientated welfare policies and schemes, including those that address poverty, unemployment, education, health and food insecurity. Further, it discusses the barriers experienced by people in accessing welfare benefits, such as corruption and bureaucratic hurdles, and challenges faced by the government in welfare provision, such as scale of operation and identification of the target population groups. Finally, it assesses the country’s welfare system in light of the Global Social Protection Floor Initiative of the ILO-UN.