The underclass: Definition and measurement

Ronald B. Mincy, Isabel V. Sawhill, Douglas A. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The term "underclass" has been widely used by journalists and by some social scientists but, until recently, has not been clearly defined or quantified. Most of the recent quantitatively oriented literature on the topic has used a definition that emphasizes either the persistence of poverty or the number of people living in neighborhoods where the incidence of poverty or dysfunctional behavior is high. Conclusions about the size and growth of the underclass are sensitive to the definition chosen, but most available evidence suggests that it is small but growing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-453
Number of pages4
Issue number4954
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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