LIVE from NYPL: Matthew Desmond and Andrea Elliott: Poverty, by America

Event Details

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author reimagines the American debate on poverty, making an original and ambitious argument about why it persists here: because too many of us benefit from it.

In-person registration for this event has sold out. A limited number of standby tickets will be available on the night of the event.

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond

Why does the United States, the richest country on earth, have more poverty than any other advanced democracy? How can one in eight children go without basic necessities, scores of citizens live and die on the streets, and corporations be authorized to pay poverty wages? In his new book, sociologist Matthew Desmond shows how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor, exploiting them and driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. It is, Desmond argues, a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least.

Desmond speaks with journalist Andrea Elliott about his new ways of thinking around this morally urgent, uniquely American problem—and imagines practical, achievable solutions for making poverty disappear.

To join the event in-person | Please register for an In-Person Ticket. Doors will open 30 minutes before the program begins. For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on this NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Matthew Desmond is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and the founding director of the Eviction Lab. His last book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, among others. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Desmond is also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.

Andrea Elliott is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has documented the lives of poor Americans, Muslim immigrants, and other people on the margins of power. She is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and the author of Invisible Child, published by Random House, which won The New York Public Library's 2022 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, as well as the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. She is also the recipient of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, a George Polk award, an Overseas Press Club award, and was awarded a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. 


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  • Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue.
  • You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email or use this Gmail template.
  • This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs.


  • Captions and a transcript will be provided.
  • Media used over the course of the conversation will be accompanied by alt text and/or audio description.
  • You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email or use this Gmail template.


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