Skip to main content


Kasarda, John D. & Ting, Kwok-Fai (1996). Joblessness and Poverty in America's Central Cities; Causes and Policy Prescriptions. Housing Policy Debate, 7(2), 347-419.


Two paradigms pervade the policy debate on the causes of urban joblessness and poverty: (1) a structural, nonvoluntaristic perspective emphasizing the roles of urban economic change, residential segregation, and spatial and skills mismatches, and (2) a rational‐choice, voluntaristic perspective contending that the generosity and ready availability of welfare programs have removed the incentive for poor persons to accept low‐paying jobs. This article brings together propositions of each paradigm into a comprehensive theoretical model. The study measured and tested key causal operators of the model for a sample of 67 large U.S. cities, with special attention to race and gender.
Results show that structural and welfare disincentive perspectives are not in conflict but rather operate side by side to reinforce joblessness and poverty. Race and gender, especially the role of urban space for women's work, are important. The article raises pertinent policy issues derived from the two perspectives and from the analysis.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Housing Policy Debate


Kasarda, John D.
Ting, Kwok-Fai