The Magazine

Better Off

The mismeasurement of wealth and poverty in America.

May 4, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 31 • By JOEL SCHWARTZ
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(I grant that crime and dependency--though emphatically not family breakdown--are less severe now than they were when Eberstadt advanced this argument more than a decade ago.)

In short, Eberstadt contended that what is most worrisome about American poverty is its connection to "predictably injurious patterns of individual and parental behavior," which "may account for a great fraction of the domestic problems we confront." Unfortunately, that problematic behavior is not addressed in any way by Broda and Weinstein, whose study of poverty is illuminating but far from comprehensive.

To be fair, though, it's unreasonable to expect comprehensiveness from a 63-page pamphlet. Within that narrow scope, to illuminate one particular aspect of a social problem is no small feat.

Joel Schwartz is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.