Poverty is a Disease
December 23, 2008

When I was growing up, I learned that in America, there are no social classes: if you are smart and work hard then you will be successful, no matter who your parents are. I doubt many Americans believe this anymore, especially now that the economy is on everyone’s mind. But this idea does seem to persist in modern conservative punditry, and I (as far as I understand it) classical microeconomics also doesn’t adequately factor in the nonlinear role of class (by nonlinear I mean someone who makes $10000/year is more than 10 times worse off than someone who makes $100000/year).

So here is some research that should kill this antiquated idea. First, a summary by Paul Krugman from back in February. Then, two updates from the past month. In summary: being born into poverty is like being born with a developmental disorder. Your chances of escaping poverty are not good. This country is not a fair place.