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Families in Peril
An Agenda for Social Change
Marian Wright Edelman
Harvard University Press, 1987

Too many American families—unstable, broken, often poor—are in serious peril, and both the reality of the situation and the myths obscuring that reality call for attention and swift action. In this most incisive analysis of the parlous state of the family today, Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, charts what is happening, exposes myths, and sets a bold agenda to strengthen families and protect children. In brilliant strokes and with abundant detail, Edelman describes family conditions over a generation—the rising curve of teenage pregnancy, the overwhelming joblessness of young blacks, the trend toward single-parent households, the increase in hungry and neglected children.

Dispelling common assumptions about these bleak phenomena, she shows that the birth rate for black unmarried women is stabilizing while that for unmarried whites continues to rise, that Aid to Dependent Children does not cause teenage pregnancy or births, and that the child poverty rate has increased two-thirds for whites in recent years, as opposed to one-sixth for black children. Overall, whites are losing ground faster than blacks. Speaking for a growing number of social commentators, she finds the key to explain the rising proportion of births to single black mothers: a lost generation of fathers—young black males unable to marry and support a family, jobless from lack of education and training.

What can be done? Edelman links the family and child poverty crisis to the fragile and ephemeral commitment of government to assist the needy. She suggests establishing a partnership between government, the private sector, and the black community to ensure children food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education. “Preventive investment strategies”—providing health, nutrition, and child care, raising the minimum wage, preventing teenage pregnancies, and opening up educational and employment opportunities for heads of families—will benefit us all. A passionate call to act now, to give real meaning to traditional American instincts for decency, this book is essential reading for everyone committed to preserving the nation’s future.

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front cover of Family and Farm in Pre-Famine Ireland
Family and Farm in Pre-Famine Ireland
The Parish of Killashandra
Kevin O'Neill
University of Wisconsin Press, 1985

Now available in paperback, Kevin O’Neill’s highly praised study of rural Ireland in the years leading up to the "Great Hunger" of the 1840s explicates the social, economic, and demographic conditions of the era. He argues that overpopulation and deprivation were inextricably linked to a third variable—the rapid economic development of rural Ireland that was shaped by British interests.

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Festival of the Poor
Fertility Decline and the Ideology of Class
Jane C. Schneider
University of Arizona Press, 1996
The historical decline of fertility in Europe has occupied a central place in social history and demography over the past quarter-century. Most scholars credit Europeans with modulating sexual behavior, through either abstinence or the practice of coitus interruptus, as a rational choice made in the interest of personal economic comfort; yet peasant and working classes have typically lagged behind in birth control and have given rise to the adage that "sexual embrace is the festival of the poor." Scholarly analyses of "lag" often reinforce this stigmatizing view. Now this subject is given a fresh look through a case study in Sicily, one of the last outposts of Western Europe's demographic transition.

By examining population changes in a single community between 1860 and 1980, the authors offer an extended review and critique of existing models of fertility decline in Europe, proposing a new interpretation that emphasizes historical context and class relations. They show how the spread of capitalism in Sicily induced an unprecedented rate of population growth, with boom-and-bust cycles creating the class experiences in which "reputational networks" came to redefine family life; how Sicilians began to control their fertility in response to class-mediated ideas about gender relations and respectable family size; and how the town's gentry, artisan, and peasant classes adopted family planning methods at different times in response to different pressures.

Jane and Peter Schneider's anthropologically oriented political-economy perspective challenges the position of Western Europe as a model for fertility decline on which every other case should converge, looking instead at the diversity of cultural ideals and practices--such as those found in Sicily--that influence the spread and form of birth control. Combining anthropological, oral historical, and archival methods in new and insightful ways, the authors' synthesis of a particular case study with a broad historical and theoretical discussion will play a major role in the ongoing debates over the history of European fertility decline and point the way toward integrating the analysis of demographic upheaval with the study of class formation and ideology.
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front cover of Financing Low Income Communities
Financing Low Income Communities
Julia Sass Rubin
Russell Sage Foundation, 2007
Access to capital and financial services is crucial for healthy communities.  However, many impoverished individuals and neighborhoods are routinely ignored by mainstream financial institutions.  This neglect led to the creation of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which provide low-income communities with financial services and act as a conduit to conventional financial organizations and capital markets. Edited by Julia Sass Rubin, Financing Low-Income Communities brings together leading experts in the field to assess what we know about the challenges of bringing financial services and capital to poor communities, map out future lines of research, and propose policy reforms to make these efforts more effective. The contributors to Financing Low-Income Communities distill research on key topics related to community development finance. Daniel Schneider and Peter Tufano examine the obstacles that make saving and asset accumulation difficult for low-income households—such as the fact that tens of millions of low-income and minority adults don't have a bank account—and consider solutions, like making it easier for low-wage workers to enroll in 401(K) plans. Jeanne Hogarth, Jane Kolodinksy, and Marianne Hilgert review evidence showing that community-based financial education programs can be effective in changing families' saving and budgeting patterns.  Lisa Servon proposes strategies for addressing the challenges facing the microenterprise field in the United States.  Julia Sass Rubin discusses ways community loan and venture capital funds have adapted in response to the decreased availability of funding, and considers potential sources of new capital, such as state governments and public pension funds.  Marva Williams explores the evolution and recent performance of community development banks and credit unions.  Kathleen Engel and Patricia McCoy document the proliferation of predatory lenders, who market loans at onerous interest rates to financially vulnerable families and the devastating effects of such lending on communities—from increased crime to falling home values and lower tax revenues. Rachel Bratt reviews the policies and programs used to make rental and owned housing financially accessible.  Rob Hollister proposes a framework for evaluating the contributions of community development financial institutions. Despite the many accomplishments of CDFIs over the last four decades, changing political and economic conditions make it imperative that they adapt in order to survive.  Financing Low-Income Communities charts out new directions for public and private organizations which aim to end the financial exclusion of marginalized neighborhoods.
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front cover of Financing Poor Relief through Charitable Collections in Dutch Towns, c. 1600-1800
Financing Poor Relief through Charitable Collections in Dutch Towns, c. 1600-1800
Daniëlle Teeuwen
Amsterdam University Press, 2015
In the Dutch Republic, charitable collections, which formed the financial backbone of many poor relief institutions, were regularly organised by both religious and secular authorities. This book examines both the policies of church boards and town councils in organising these charitable appeals, as well as the general population's giving behaviour. Using archival sources from the towns of Delft, Utrecht, Zwolle, and 's-Hertogenbosch, Daniëlle Teeuwen shows how these authorities deployed organisational and rhetorical tactics-including creating awareness, establishing trust, and exerting pressure-to successfully promote fundraising campaigns. Not only did many relief institutions manage to collect large annual sums, but contributions came from across the socioeconomic spectrum.
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front cover of Fourth Revolution and the Bottom Four Billion
Fourth Revolution and the Bottom Four Billion
Making Technologies Work for the Poor
Nir Kshetri
University of Michigan Press, 2023

Products and services based on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are normally considered to be for rich consumers in advanced countries. Fourth Revolution and the Bottom Four Billion demonstrates how marginalized and vulnerable groups with limited resources can also benefit from these technologies. Nir Kshetri suggests that the falling costs and the increased ease of developing and deploying applications based on these technologies are making them more accessible. He illustrates how key emerging technologies are transforming major industries and application areas such as healthcare and pandemic preparedness, agriculture, finance, banking, and insurance. The book also looks at how these transformations are affecting the lives of low-income people in low- and middle-income countries and highlights the areas needing regulatory attention to adequately protect marginalized and vulnerable groups from the abuse and misuse of these technologies. Kshetri discusses how various barriers such as the lack of data, low resource languages, underdeveloped technology infrastructures, lack of computing power and shortage of skill and talent have hindered the adoption of these technologies among marginalized and vulnerable groups. Fourth Revolution and the Bottom Four Billion suggests that it is the responsibility of diverse stakeholders—governments, NGOs, international development organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, and others—to ensure that marginal groups also benefit from these transformative innovations.

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Fringe Banking
Check-Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops, and the Poor
John P. Caskey
Russell Sage Foundation, 1994
"Cogently argued, fills an important gap in the literature, and is accessible to undergraduates." —Choice "Dismantles the mythology surrounding pawnshops and check-cashing outlets, and demonstrates that they are no longer on the fringe of our financial system but integral to it."—San Francisco Bay Guardian In today's world of electronic cash transfers, automated teller machines, and credit cards, the image of the musty, junk-laden pawnshop seems a relic of the past. But it is not. The 1980s witnessed a tremendous boom in pawnbroking. There are now more pawnshops thanever before in U.S. history, and they are found not only in large cities but in towns and suburbs throughout the nation. As John Caskey demonstrates in Fringe Banking, the increased public patronage of both pawnshops and commercial check-cashing outlets signals the growing number of American households now living on a cash-only basis, with no connection to any mainstream credit facilities or banking services. Fringe Banking is the first comprehensive study of pawnshops and check-cashing outlets, profiling their operations, customers, and recent growth from family-owned shops to such successful outlet chains as Cash American and ACE America's Cash Express. It explains why, despite interest rates and fees substantially higher than those of banks, their use has so dramatically increased. According to Caskey, declining family earnings, changing family structures, a growing immigrant population, and lack of household budgeting skills has greatly reduced the demand for bank deposit services among millions of Americans. In addition, banks responded to 1980s regulatory changes by increasing fees on deposit accounts with small balances and closing branches in many poor urban areas. These factors combined to leave many low- and moderate-income families without access to checking privileges, credit services, and bank loans. Pawnshops and check-cashing outlets provide such families with essential financial services thay cannot obtain elsewhere. Caskey notes that fringe banks, particularly check-cashing outlets, are also utilized by families who could participate in the formal banking system, but are willing to pay more for convenience and quick access to cash. Caskey argues that, contrary to their historical reputation as predators milking the poor and desperate, pawnshops and check-cashing outlets play a key financial role for disadvantaged groups. Citing the inconsistent and often unenforced state laws currently governing the industry, Fringe Banking challenges policy makers to design regulations that will allow fringe banks to remain profitable without exploiting the customers who depend on them.
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front cover of From the Puritans to the Projects
From the Puritans to the Projects
Lawrence J. Vale
Harvard University Press, 2000

From the almshouses of seventeenth-century Puritans to the massive housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, the struggle over housing assistance in the United States has exposed a deep-seated ambivalence about the place of the urban poor. Lawrence J. Vale's groundbreaking book is both a comprehensive institutional history of public housing in Boston and a broader examination of the nature and extent of public obligation to house socially and economically marginal Americans during the past 350 years.

First, Vale highlights startling continuities both in the way housing assistance has been delivered to the American poor and in the policies used to reward the nonpoor. He traces the stormy history of the Boston Housing Authority, a saga of entrenched patronage and virulent racism tempered, and partially overcome, by the efforts of unyielding reformers. He explores the birth of public housing as a program intended to reward the upwardly mobile working poor, details its painful transformation into a system designed to cope with society's least advantaged, and questions current policy efforts aimed at returning to a system of rewards for responsible members of the working class. The troubled story of Boston public housing exposes the mixed motives and ideological complexity that have long characterized housing in America, from the Puritans to the projects.

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