UK's Ziliak Edits Book Aimed at Attacking Poverty

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 14, 2012) — Nearly a half century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson led a national effort to launch the 'War on Poverty,' with particular emphasis on the Appalachian region of the U.S., including Kentucky.  A new book, edited by James P. Ziliak, the Carol Martin Gatton Chair in Microeconomics in the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics and director of the Center for Poverty Research, examines just how effective actions taken have been and where we might go from here.


In "Appalachian Legacy, Economic Opportunity after the War on Poverty," published by the Brookings Institution Press, Professor Ziliak and contributors from seven other leading universities around the country determine whether, where, and how progress has been made in Appalachia compared to the nation overall.


The authors’ findings lead them to advocate for a new commitment to investment in human and physical capital through expanded prekindergarten programs, public health campaigns, and regionally focused infrastructure improvements in higher education and tourism-oriented industries.


According to this group of prominent economists and demographers, these developments can offer the greatest long-term payoff for Appalachia and for similarly depressed regions of the nation.  Highlights include discussion of:


  • A large difference between rural and urban areas in earnings distribution as well as slower growth in earnings as a result of lower educational attainment.


  • A high incidence of “brain drain”: the college educated are even more likely to leave and less likely to move in than those with only high school degrees or less.


  • Secular changes in the structure of the American family — especially the rise in female-headed families — as a possible causal mechanism of poverty.


  • Poor health capital among individuals in persistent poverty as demonstrated by a          comprehensive review of links between childhood socioeconomic status and           adult outcomes.


  • Fundamental development challenges, including comparatively small cities located far from the high-amenity coasts.


"The evidence presented in the book is fairly compelling that Appalachia overall is better off today than before the War on Poverty, but significant challenges of poor health, low education, and inadequate economic development remain, especially in the central region," Ziliak noted.  "Tackling the enduring legacy of persistent poverty in the region should be a high priority for the private sector as well as all levels of government.”      


From now through July 31, by entering the code KAL2 at checkout, a discount of 40 percent off the purchase price of the book is being offered at




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