War on Poverty’s Positive Impact

After Fifty Years Much Work Remains

LBJ War on PovertyFifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty.

Through programs established as part of President Johnson’s initiatives – including Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, education programs and tax cuts to incentivize employment – poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century and poverty-related conditions have declined.

Has the War on Poverty been successful?

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),

“Today’s safety net — which includes important programs and improvements both from the Johnson era and thereafter — cuts poverty nearly in half. It kept 41 million people, including 9 million children, out of poverty in 2012, according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, a more comprehensive measure than the “official” measure.”

But as those who work with the homeless know, the work is nowhere near finished. Millions of Americans,

“Have trouble putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. Nearly 50 million Americans were poor in 2012, including 13 million children, and 16 million people lived below half of the poverty line.”

The United States still faces high levels of inequality. It is critical that we continue the work to reduce poverty and hardship and to promote broad economic opportunity.

CBPP shared this commentary on the War on Poverty on 50, “Large Positive Impact, But More Work Remains.”

“The safety net has developed over many decades and now helps millions of people make ends meet and access affordable health care … Still, poverty in the United States remains high and many families face real hardships as they struggle to make ends meet.”

Writes the CBPP’s Sharon Parrott.

The CBPP has also released a Chart Book that uses census data and new research showing the benefits of the safety net created through the War on Poverty.

Click here for Parrott’s full commentary on the anniversary.

Click here for additional CBPP commentary on the anniversary.

Click here for the War on Poverty Chart Book.

Click here for NPR’s coverage of the anniversary that will continue throughout the coming year.

Click here for the NYT coverage of the anniversary.