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The Los Angeles civil disturbances of 1992 brought America's long-term urban problems into new focus and raised concerns about the effectiveness of government solutions. This report attempts to provide answers in a series of essays on four general areas of urban problems: inner city; children, youth and families; crime and criminal justice; and public services and social welfare. Each essay defines the nature of the problem, describes and evaluates remedies tried in the past, and evaluates current policy ideas in terms of risks and benefits. The editors note that many serious urban problems lie outside local government's control, but federal decisionmakers have not been attentive to the effect of their policies at the local level. They suggest that, given the complexity of these problems, decisionmakers must be willing to implement policies that may benefit only a part of the target population. In addition, policymakers and the public need to have realistic expectations about what government can achieve, and must recognize that policy will have a limited effect at best if it tries to swim against broad social and economic currents.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Acknowledgements


  • Introduction

  • Part I

    Public Policy and the Inner City Across Three Decades

  • Chapter One

    Public Policy and the Inner City Across Three Decades

    Robert A. Levine and Barbara R. Williams

  • Part 2

    Children, Youth, and Families

  • Chapter Two

    The Widening Income and Wage Gap Between Rich and Poor: Trends, Causes, and Policy Options

    Lynn A. Karoly

  • Chapter Three

    Families, Children, Poverty, Policy

    Julie DaVanzo

  • Chapter Four

    Helping Urban Teenagers Avoid High-Risk Behavior: What We'Ve Learned from Prevention Research

    Phyllis L. Ellickson

  • Chapter Five

    Urban Education

    Paul T. Hill

  • Chapter Six

    Military Service: a Closing Door of Opportunity for Youth

    James R. Hosek and Jacob Alex Klerman

  • Part 3

    Crime and Criminal Justice

  • Chapter Seven

    Crime and Punishment in California: Full Cells, Empty Pockets, and Questionable Benefits

    Joan Petersilia

  • Chapter Eight

    Reforming California'S Approach to Delinquent and High-Risk Youth

    Peter W. Greenwood

  • Chapter Nine

    Street Drug Markets in Inner-City Neighborhoods

    Peter H. Reuter and Robert J. Maccoun

  • Part 4

    Public Services and Social Welfare

  • Chapter Ten

    Financing Public Services in Los Angeles

    Preston Niblack and Peter J.E. Stan

  • Chapter Eleven

    Needed: a Federal Role in Helping Communities Cope with Immigration

    Georges Vernez

  • Chapter Twelve

    Providing Health Care for the Uninsured and Underinsured in Los Angeles County

    Robert E. Tranquada and Peter A. Glassman

  • Chapter Thirteen

    Getting Nowhere: Homeless People, Aimless Policy

    Paul Koegel and Audrey Burnam

  • Authors

    About the Contributors

  • Selected Rand Research

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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