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The War on Poverty and Subsequent Federal Programs

What Worked, What Didn't Work, and Why? Lessons for Future Programs

By Peter Edelman

Despite mythology to the contrary, the poverty program of the 1960s, during its brief heyday, was remarkably effective in reducing poverty in the United States. Many aspects of that program continue today, albeit with lower profiles; the best known of these is likely Head Start. The poverty program of the 1960s offers many lessons from which twenty-first-century advocates should draw in contemplating how to plan a new, and even more vigorous, "war on on poverty."

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