It turns out that in some neighborhoods, people believe it’s kind of a no man’s land. They don’t trust their neighbors at all. The Latino population is headed straight to the underclass in a very real and powerful way. Over 70 percent of African-Americans who live in today’s poorest, most racially segregated neighborhoods are from the same families that lived in the ghettos of the 1970s. In other words, “the American ghetto appears to be inherited“—a finding with implications for policy. But as scholars break new ground, is anybody listening? Not since the early 1960s has poverty received so little attention, says Christopher Jencks, a Harvard professor of public policy. Among sociologists, he says, optimism that they will make a political impact has waned.
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