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Chapter 5 Summary/Questions
Michelle Loding
Wayne State University
SW 4710
October 13, 2015
Chapter 5 Summary/Questions
Chapter 5 of the American Social Welfare Policy book by Howard Jacob Karger and
David Stoesz addresses the issue of poverty mostly in the United States, but also other areas of
the world. To begin, Karger and Stoesz, (2014) share the Culture of Poverty that says that
poverty is passed from generation to generation in a self-induced cycle. There are numerous
different views on poverty and why poverty exists in one of the richest countries in the world.
While there is no definitive answer in how to measure poverty, the newest mean is with the
Supplementary Poverty Measure (SMP). This way is fundamentally better than the older
measure due to the fact that it considers a wider range of factors in determining the poverty
threshold. (Karger & Stoesz, 2014, p. 100). Among these factors are things like healthcare cost,
childcare, and general cost of living expenses. Depending on the area of the country a person
lives in, the costs of living can vary greatly, as it does with age also. The older generation spends

more on healthcare costs than a younger person will, but the younger people will make up that
cost in childcare. It is a delicate balance of spending.
Single-family households (female-headed), made up 34.2% of poverty stricken cases in
2010. (Karger & Stoesz, 2014). Child support is one way to bring the single mother income back
up, but that does not come without consequence. The biggest issue with child support being that
it needs to be paid in order to be counted. Next is the issue of unfair payment amounts for the
non-resident parents. Often, cases are outdated or the payee has changed jobs (or lost a job), and
the amount of child support taken by court order is now putting that parent in the poverty range.
While child support does typically benefit the custodial parent, it can be a hindrance to all
involved too.
The main focus of the chapter is the working poor. Almost one in four U.S. workers
lives in or around the edges of poverty. Thirty-five million Americans work full time but fail to
make an adequate living. (Karger & Stoesz, 2014, p. 103). One of the issues with this is
underemployment and unemployment. The problem with finding and keeping jobs and a low
minimum wage combined make up the working poor. The dual labor market can make it
difficult for someone who lives inside of the poverty line. By not having the same access to
education and skilled trade training, those within the poverty threshold tend to hold the
secondary market jobs. This brings it back to the issues of low minimum wages and poverty.
The chapter discusses three approaches to help the fight against poverty. These are
curative, which aims to end the cycle of poverty within families, alleviative that relies on public
assistance to alleviate poverty, and preventive that requires people to use state-funded programs
to help keep individual costs down. (Karger & Stoesz, 2014). Curative seems to have the best
way to help case poverty by providing education at the earliest level to break the cycle of


poverty. This is not without expenses though. It takes money through grants and other funding
to have the state-run programs. Alleviative and preventive also have a high expense rate, but
give people living in or around poverty level a hand in paying for everyday expenses. Perhaps
by combing the approaches, there could actually be a reduction in poverty for the U.S. By
making it mandatory for individuals or families that apply for state or federal assistance to attend
workshops about how to manage money or things of that nature, it could be giving them the tools
needed to pull themselves out of poverty instead of them waiting for an end to poverty that might
never come.
Fringe economy is where businesses make money off of people having to finance assets
or pay interest fees. It can also include inflation of goods or services. There are numerous ways
for the fringe economy to contribute to poverty including rent-to-own businesses, pawnshops,
vehicle title lenders, credit/debit cards, and payday loans. (Karger & Stoesz, 2014). The
problems within this economy are further exacerbated by the fact that the ones with the means to
pay are often charged less in fees or interest, while the ones usually within poverty are often all
together denied or charged high premiums. This hardly seems fair to be kicking someone when
they are down on their luck as it is. It is the same principle used often by banks that charge a
service fee (upwards of $40) when funds are below the $0.00 threshold. Until practices of that
nature get regulated to make it fair for everyone, there will continue to be a poverty driven
problem plaguing the U.S.



Karger, H. J., & Stoesz, D. (2014). American Social Welfare Policy A Pluralist Approach (7th
ed.). United States of America: Pearson.