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The War on Poverty is the unofficial name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on Wednesday, January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.

As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the federal government’s roles in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies. These policies can also be seen as a continuation of Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s New Deal, which ran from 1933 to 1937, and the Four Freedoms of 1941. Johnson stated, “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it”.


The legacy of the War on Poverty policy initiative remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), TRiO, and Job Corps.

War on Poverty Statistics

The classic study of 1960s social policy, which practically defined the terms of welfare reform in the 1990s, was Charles Murray’s Losing Ground. That book advanced the provocative thesis that the Great Society programs, as well as increased AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) availability, were themselves largely to blame for the stagnation of the poor. These programs, in short, were not only expensive, but they were also counterproductive.

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"War on Poverty: A Statistical Look at Its Effects" History on the Net
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June 12, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/war-on-poverty-statistics>
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