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Abstract for:

When Work Disappears: New Implications for Race and Urban Poverty in the Global Economy

William Julius Wilson,  November 1998
Paper No' CASE 017: Full paper (pdf)
Tags: employment and income; employment and the labour market; poverty, exclusion and equalities; equality, capabilities and human rights; housing, neighbourhoods and environment; neighbourhoods and communities; regions and area inequalities; cities; joblessness; race; urban poverty


This paper discusses the impact of growing joblessness and dwindling work opportunities on inner-city areas in America. The lack of low-skilled manual work in the inner city is linked to poverty, crime, family dissolution and the social life of neighbourhoods. The paper discusses this impact at a neighbourhood-wide, family and individual level, noting the interaction between these levels and the intergenerational repercussions that result. The paper goes on to look at race in this context, identifying a new form of cultural racism. It examines the way race becomes an issue as black people become disproportionately represented in neighbourhoods where there is a high ratio of joblessless and very few work opportunities. The paper shows how this segregation plus its interaction with other changes in society, escalates rates of neighbourhood joblessness and compounds existing problems in these neighbourhoods. Finally the paper examines the role of public policy, the way it has exacerbated inner-city joblessness and how it attempted to resolve the problem, but failed. The paper concludes by pointing to a way forward to improve work opportunities for all sectors of society that are struggling to make ends meet, including inner-city poor and the working- and middle- classes.