Publications

NEW BOOK

BY STEFANIE DELUCA
SUSAN CLAMPET-LUNDQUIST
KATHRYN EDIN

Coming of Age in the Other America illuminates the profound effects of neighborhoods on impoverished families. The authors conducted in-depth interviews and fieldwork with 150 young adults, and found that those who had been able to move to better neighborhoods—either as part of the Moving to Opportunity program or by other means—achieved much higher rates of high school completion and college enrollment than their parents. About half the youth surveyed reported being motivated by an “identity project”—or a strong passion such as music, art, or a dream job—to finish school and build a career.

Coming of Age in the Other America presents a sensitive, nuanced account of how a generation of ambitious but underprivileged young Baltimoreans has struggled to succeed. It both challenges long-held myths about inner-city youth and shows how the process of “social reproduction”—where children end up stuck in the same place as their parents—is far from inevitable.

NEW BOOK

BY STEFANIE DELUCA
SUSAN CLAMPET-LUNDQUIST
KATHRYN EDIN

Coming of Age in the Other America illuminates the profound effects of neighborhoods on impoverished families. The authors conducted in-depth interviews and fieldwork with 150 young adults, and found that those who had been able to move to better neighborhoods—either as part of the Moving to Opportunity program or by other means—achieved much higher rates of high school completion and college enrollment than their parents. About half the youth surveyed reported being motivated by an “identity project”—or a strong passion such as music, art, or a dream job—to finish school and build a career.

Coming of Age in the Other America presents a sensitive, nuanced account of how a generation of ambitious but underprivileged young Baltimoreans has struggled to succeed. It both challenges long-held myths about inner-city youth and shows how the process of “social reproduction”—where children end up stuck in the same place as their parents—is far from inevitable.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

On $2 A Day

Drawing on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, H. Luke Shaefer and PIRL researcher Kathryn Edin examined changes from 1996 to 2011 in children living on less than $2 of income per person per day.

A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists.

Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.

The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.

Marginal Men

In their book Doing the Best I Can, PIRL researchers Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson show how economic and cultural change has transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor.

Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning.

The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. Drawing on years of fieldwork, Doing the Best I Can shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor.

Investing in Enduring Resources with the Earned Income Tax Credit

It’s Not Like I’m Poor looks at how working families use the Earned Income Tax Credit to build savings, go to school, and send their kids to college. By interviewing 115 families, the authors — including PIRL’s Kathryn Edin — show how dreams of economic mobility are often dashed by the reality of making monthly ends meet on meager wages.

The world of welfare has changed radically. As the poor trade welfare checks for low-wage jobs, their low earnings qualify them for a hefty check come tax time—a combination of the earned income tax credit and other refunds. For many working parents this one check is like hitting the lottery, offering several months’ wages as well as the hope of investing in a better future. Drawing on interviews with 115 families, the authors look at how parents plan to use this annual cash windfall to build up savings, go back to school, and send their kids to college. However, these dreams of upward mobility are often dashed by the difficulty of trying to get by on meager wages. In accessible and engaging prose, It’s Not Like I’m Poor examines the costs and benefits of the new work-based safety net, suggesting ways to augment its strengths so that more of the working poor can realize the promise of a middle-class life.

Meet the researchers who make our work possible

Meet the researchers who make our work possible