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Poverty in 2021 looks different than in 1964 – but the US hasn't changed how it measures who's poor since LBJ began his war

By Mark Robert Rank, Professor of Social Welfare, Washington University in St Louis
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In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson famously declared war on poverty.

“The richest nation on Earth can afford to win it,” he told Congress in his first State of the Union address. “We cannot afford to lose it.”

Yet as the administration was to learn on both the domestic and foreign battlefields, a country marching off to war must have a credible estimate of the enemy’s size and strength. Surprisingly, up until this point, the U.S. had no official measure of poverty and therefore…


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