Steve Chapman on Why Some Poor People Stay Poor

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Credit: _overfly_ / photo on flickr

Americans regard theirs as the land of opportunity, which makes the persistence of black poverty baffling and even exasperating. After all, the road out of permanent destitution is not hard to identify. Why do so many people refuse to take it? 

Rick Santorum made this point when he ran for president in 2012. Experts, he asserted, have documented that as a rule, you have to do just three things to avoid poverty: "work, graduate from high school and get married before you have children." 

There's much value in that formula. But putting it to use requires certain capacities, Steve Chapman explains. What research has starkly revealed is that poverty and other problems afflicting many black neighborhoods have a way of stunting the attributes needed to overcome them. 

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