This work identifies the urgent need facing the United States for more effective methods of making adolescence a period of opportunity for children in poverty as well as for those in the mainstream. It focuses on the interaction between adolescent growth and maturation, on the one hand, and the inadequate (or outright dysfunctional) socialization mechanisms of impoverished communities, on the other. "Adolescence and Poverty" authors describe how this interaction is contributing to social and economic failure for a growing sub-population of American teenagers. One chapter in the volume looks at US demographic data which show a decreasing number of teens overall but an increasing proportion living in poverty. The authors discuss the steep decline in the relative economic value of a high school diploma that characterized the US economy during the 1980s. They explore the implications of a growing segment of the potential workforce that is significantly under-educated and under-trained for the type of jobs that will increasingly be the norm.
The role of early jobs and job experience in determining later work success is examined, and different patterns of job and job-related social supports in mainstream versus non-mainstream communities are explored.