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Author like: Barclay, Justin P
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1. Abell, Troy
Lyon, Larry
Do the Differences Make a Difference? An Empirical Evaluation of the Culture of Poverty in the U.S.
American Ethnologist 6,3 (August 1979): 602-621.
Cohort(s): Young Men
Publisher: American Anthropological Association
Keyword(s): Behavioral Differences; Demography; Educational Attainment; Family Influences; Family Structure; I.Q.; Occupational Attainment; Poverty; Socioeconomic Status (SES); Urbanization/Urban Living

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

This analysis of the culture of poverty in the United States produces several findings specific to the theoretical propositions of Lewis and subsequent critiques: (1) there are significant differences between the descendants of the lower class and those of the middle class in relation to family structure, the community school system, region of the country, race, degree of urbanism, and IQ; (2) the differentiating behaviors appear to be socially transmitted from one generation to the next in terms of lower levels of income, occupational prestige and IQ scores; (3) six predictive variables of educational, occupational, and financial achievement (race, region of the country, degree of urbanism, number of siblings, home reading material, and IQ) also differentiate the two classes; (4) individual and familial factors are more powerful determinants of educational and occupational attainment than structural or societal forces; (5) two thirds of the income gap between descendants of the poor and those of the middle class is determined by structural forces beyond individual efforts at change. These findings reveal an explanatory model supportive of Gans' theoretical conception of the causes of poverty: behavior is thus a mixture of situational responses and cultural patterns. This analysis of the NLS data gives empirical documentation to Lewis's original hypothesis that certain individual and familial behaviors differentiating the lower and middle classes are causally linked with occupational prestige and income. Yet, these cultural behaviors are not the primary factors in the perpetuation of economic poverty.
Bibliography Citation
Abell, Troy and Larry Lyon. "Do the Differences Make a Difference? An Empirical Evaluation of the Culture of Poverty in the U.S." American Ethnologist 6,3 (August 1979): 602-621.