Social Scientists and the Problem of Poverty

The riots in Los Angeles have renewed the debate over the causes and consequences of urban poverty. One reporter who was interviewing me recently asked a key question: "Is there anything new about the problems facing the poor in America's cities today, or are we just talking about the same old problems?"

Most of the problems faced by today's poor are indeed similar to those that poor people faced in past decades. But some important social and economic changes have intensified certain