Parenthood and Poverty in the Inner City

For this week’s installment of our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine the problems of extreme poverty in cities like Camden, NJ (the poorest city in the country), Baltimore, and Philadelphia. The also investigate a number of the questions many have about the urban poor, such as: How do single mothers survive on welfare? Why were so many low-income women having children without marrying, when doing so seems so difficult? Where are the fathers and why do they disengage from their children’s lives? Why don’t more people work? Their book Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City is based on a multi-year ethnographic study of black and white low-income, unmarried fathers in inner-city Philadelphia and Camden and shows how major economic and cultural shifts have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor.