Poverty scholars condemn opinion piece of NYU professor

A group of leading poverty scholars and directors of the National Collaborative of Poverty Centers has issued a strong statement of criticism of a recent opinion piece in the journal Society, authored by Lawrence Mead, a political scientist at New York University.

The group of prominent poverty scholars has strongly condemned Mead’s opinion piece, stating that while he has a right to free speech, his article does not reflect the current knowledge about causes of poverty and inequality in the U.S. “[Mead’s] conclusions are false, without any supporting evidence, and completely unfounded” their response states. The group of nationally known researchers also reaffirms their commitment to “understanding and explaining” how poverty and racism are either perpetuated or mitigated.

In general, Mead’s paper makes several fundamental mistakes in supporting his assumptions (see a critique from Inside Higher Ed), including reliance on material that does not reflect current knowledge, generalized assumptions about ethnic minorities, and use of the culture of poverty argument that has been widely refuted. A group of more than 1000 scholars has petitioned that Society retract the article, which is now under review by the journal.