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From The CriticsReviewer: Jeanne B Hewitt, PhD, RN (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Description: This well documented essay describes the effect of social policies that have been in existence since the Reagan administration that have widened the gap between rich and poor. Professor Lindsey offers solutions to alleviate poverty among children in the United States based largely on policies in Europe that have been shown to be effective.
Purpose: The purpose is to offer social policy solutions to alleviate poverty among U.S. children based on universal coverage. Professor Lindsey makes a compelling argument for the benefits that would be reaped by future generations of children and these solutions are highly worthy of our consideration.
Audience: This book seems to be written for policy makers and the general public. The author is highly respected in the field of social policy as it affects the economic status of children.
Features: Professor Lindsey writes compellingly about the social policies in the United States since the Reagan administration that have led to increasing economic disparities among children, which are largely based on parents' economic status. The prevalence of poverty among U.S. children is worse than 23 developed and developing nations. Professor Lindsey uses data to illustrate that U.S. children who are black or Hispanic, or raised by a single mother, fair much worse than white or Asian children, or those raised in two-parent households. Though the author addresses some aspects of gender inequity among adults, he does not discuss the lack of equal-pay-for-equal-work issue nor the fact that the Family Medical Leave Act is severely flawed by comparison to leave policies in many other nations. Professor Lindsey also does not address the severe poverty among American Indian/Alaskan Native children. However, these limitations are more than offset by the thoroughness of this essay on not only problems, but also solutions and their potential impact on the future of our children. In particular, he proposes that childhood poverty would be alleviated by an equitable universal children's allowance, a child support program for all children raised in a single-parent home, and universally available, publicly subsidized child care. Versions of these policies are already being used successfully in Europe and elsewhere. A key feature of these social policies is the universal (rather than need-based) availability of these policies regardless of families' income.
Assessment: This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of social policies that widen the gap between rich and poor children. It is an excellent chronicle of social policies in the U.S. since the Depression. Though Professor Lindsey does not hypothesize the effect of poverty on children's health, this essay should stimulate discussion of the long-term and far-reaching consequences of economic disparities among children in the U.S. — our future.