The New Battle on Poverty

Jan. 8 marked the 50th anniversary of the President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address calling on the nation to launch an "unconditional war on poverty." This address began a national commitment to fighting poverty through targeted policy resulting in programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start Pell Grants, expansions to Social Security and nutrition programs like food stamps.

Every day, more Americans fall into poverty. As research supports, the consequences of poverty can be severe — homelessness, poor health, hunger, high-poverty neighborhoods plagued with high crime and low-performing schools, in a pool of shallow opportunities.

The U.S and its economic landscape have experienced great changes since 1964, higher levels of education to enter the middle-class, changing family structures and the increase of women in the job market and rising income inequality. Each of these factors has played a role in the increased the threat of poverty and consequently, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty and millions more continued to be threatened by economic disparity.

APA has long been active in advocating for research that examines the causes and impact of poverty, economic disparity and related issues such as socioeconomic status, classism, ageism, unintended pregnancy, environmental factors, ethnic strife and war, stereotypes, the stigma and feelings of shame associated with poverty, and mental and physical health problems, including depression, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, child abuse and elder abuse, as well as advocating for the broader dissemination of these research findings.

The Committee on Socioeconomic Status, in an effort to enrich the national discourse surrounding poverty the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, in the context of a rapidly changing demography and a growing global marketplace, the field of psychology has invaluable contributions to the understanding of Socioeconomic Status and the lives and well-being of the poor.

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Psychology and Poverty