Poverty and Deep Poverty

  • Kathryn Edin
  • Linda Burton
  • David Grusky

Leaders: Linda Burton, Kathryn Edin, David Grusky

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) reveals substantial post-1970 reductions in poverty under a constant (i.e., “anchored”) threshold, but this trend masks worrisome developments at the very bottom of the distribution. Although the overall SPM has trended downward since 1970, the SPM for households with less than half of the anchored threshold level (i.e., “deep poverty”) has remained stable since 1968. Even more worrying, the most extreme forms of poverty, such as living on less than $2 per day (per person), have in fact increased over the last two decades. The main tasks of our Poverty and Deep Poverty RG are to describe trends in poverty and deep poverty, to assess the effectiveness of current anti-poverty programs, and to examine the likely payoff to introducing new anti-poverty programs. We present a sampling of relevant projects below.

Frequent Reporting Project: Why are unemployment statistics reported monthly whereas poverty statistics are reported only once a year (and with such a long lag)? The CPI is hard at work solving this problem.

California Poverty Project: The CPI, in collaboration with the Public Policy Institute of California, issues the California Poverty Measure (CPM) annually. There are plans afoot to make it an even more powerful policy instrument. 

Ending Poverty in California: Is it possible to substantially reduce poverty in California by relying entirely on evidence-based programs? It indeed is.

The National Poverty StudyThe country’s one-size-fits-all poverty policy ignores the seemingly profound differences between suburban poverty, immigrant poverty, reservation poverty, rural white poverty, deindustrializing poverty, and the many other ways in which massive deprivation plays out in the U.S. The National Poverty Study, which will be the country’s first qualitative census of poverty, takes on the problem.

Income supports and deep poverty: The U.S. does not rely heavily on unconditional cash transfers in its poverty programming. Is this a mistake? The CPI is assisting Y Combinator in providing the first U.S. evidence on unconditional income support since the negative income tax experiments of the 1970s.

Disability and deep poverty: The country’s disability programs are an important anti-poverty weapon. In evaluating their effectiveness, it is important to determine whether the low employment rates among program recipients reflects an underlying (low) capacity for employment, as opposed to the labor-supply effects of the programs themselves. Although it’s long been difficult to assess such labor-supply effects, now there’s a way forward.

Evictions and deep and extreme poverty: Are evictions an important cause of deep and extreme poverty? This line of research examines the extent to which deep and extreme poverty can be reduced with a “housing first” policy that ramps up federal housing programs.

Deep poverty and TANF add-ons: The country is implicitly running hundreds of experiments on how best to structure TANF programs, but it hasn’t had the capacity to evaluate them. Are administrative data the answer?

Poverty - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Severe Deprivation in America: An Introduction Matthew Desmond

Severe Deprivation in America: An Introduction

Author: Matthew Desmond
Publisher: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Date: 11/2015

Poverty researchers from across the social sciences have the opportunity to reach collectively toward a new paradigm—not just a new way of thinking but a whole different approach to the study of vulnerability, violence, and marginality, one that carries methodological, policy-relevant, and normative implications. Most research is rooted in theories now a few decades old. These theories have stood the test of time because they are incisive, sweeping, and validated. But they also were developed before the United States began incarcerating more of its citizens than any other nation; before urban rents soared and poor families began dedicating the majority of their income to housing; before welfare reform caused caseloads to plummet; and before the crack epidemic tore apart poor minority communities. In recent years, the very nature of poverty in America has changed, especially at the very bottom. A new poverty agenda is needed for a world that is itself quite new.

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America Kathryn Edin, Luke Shaefer

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

Author: Kathryn Edin, Luke Shaefer
Publisher: Boston MA: Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt
Date: 09/2015

Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.

Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/200-a-Day/9780544303188#sthash.U75TC8CS.dpu

essica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. 

 

After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 

 

Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 

 

The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. 

- See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/200-a-Day/9780544303188#sthash.U75TC8CS....

About the Authors
Excerpts
Reviews
  • A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists 

    Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. 

     

    After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 

     

    Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 

- See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/200-a-Day/9780544303188#sthash.U75TC8CS....

About the Authors
Excerpts
Reviews
  • A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists 

    Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. 

     

    After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 

     

    Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 

- See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/200-a-Day/9780544303188#sthash.U75TC8CS....

Poverty, Pregnancy, and Birth Outcomes: A Study of the Earned Income Tax Credit Rita Hamad, David H. Rehkopf

Poverty, Pregnancy, and Birth Outcomes: A Study of the Earned Income Tax Credit

Author: Rita Hamad, David H. Rehkopf
Publisher: Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Date: 09/2015

Economic interventions are increasingly recognised as a mechanism to address perinatal health outcomes among disadvantaged groups. In the US, the earned income tax credit (EITC) is the largest poverty alleviation programme. Little is known about its effects on perinatal health among recipients and their children. We exploit quasi-random variation in the size of EITC payments to examine the effects of income on perinatal health. We find that EITC payment size is associated with better levels of several indicators of perinatal health. Instrumental variables analysis, however, does not reveal a causal association between household income and these health measures.

Poverty and Deep Poverty in California Christopher Wimer, Marybeth Mattingly, Sara Kimberlin, Caroline Danielson, Sarah Bohn

Poverty and Deep Poverty in California

Author: Christopher Wimer, Marybeth Mattingly, Sara Kimberlin, Caroline Danielson, Sarah Bohn
Publisher:
Date: 06/2015
Reducing Poverty in California...Permanently Conway Collis, David B. Grusky, Sara Kimberlin, Courtney Powers, Sandra Sanchez

Reducing Poverty in California...Permanently

Author: Conway Collis, David B. Grusky, Sara Kimberlin, Courtney Powers, Sandra Sanchez
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 05/2015

What if we decided to go beyond the usual lip-service commitments to reducing poverty and actually tried to do something big? Learn more about a new plan to reduce poverty—substantially and permanently—in California.

poverty - CPI Affiliates

Sudhir A. Venkatesh's picture Sudhir A. Venkatesh UX Researcher on Protect and Care
Facebook Research
Emily Hannum's picture Emily Hannum Professor of Sociology and Education; Associate Director, Population Studies Center
Univerisity of Pennsylvania
Sylvia Yanagisako's picture Sylvia Yanagisako Chair and Professor, Department of Anthropology; Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies
Stanford University
Frank D. Bean's picture Frank D. Bean Chancellor's Professor of Sociology and Economics, Director, Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy
University of California, Irvine
Tim Biblarz's picture Tim Biblarz Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies
University of Southern California

Pages

Poverty - Other Research

Title Author Media
How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates The Pew Charitable Trusts

How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates

Author: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Publisher: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Date: 01/2013

Past research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project has shown the power of a college education to both promote upward mobility and prevent downward mobility. The chances of moving from the bottom of the family income ladder all the way to the top are three times greater for someone with a college degree than for someone without one. Moreover, when compared with their less-credentialed counterparts, college graduates have been able to count on much higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. Even during the Great Recession, college graduates maintained higher rates of employment and higher earnings compared with less educated adults. However, the question of how recent college graduates have fared has remained largely unexamined, and many in the popular media have suggested that the advantageous market situation of college graduates is beginning to unravel under the pressure of the economic downturn. This study examines whether a college degree protected these recent graduates from a range of poor employment outcomes during the recession, including unemployment, low-skill jobs, and lesser wages.

Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan

Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure

Author: Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan
Publisher: Journal of Economic Perspectives
Date: 06/2012

We discuss poverty measurement, focusing on two alternatives to the current official measure: consumption poverty, and the Census Bureau's new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that was released for the first time last year. The SPM has advantages over the official poverty measure, including a more defensible adjustment for family size and composition, an expanded definition of the family unit that includes cohabitors, and a definition of income that is conceptually closer to resources available for consumption. The SPM's definition of income, though conceptually broader than pre-tax money income, is difficult to implement given available data and their accuracy. Furthermore, income data do not capture consumption out of savings and tangible assets such as houses and cars. A consumption-based measure has similar advantages but fewer disadvantages. We compare those added to and dropped from the poverty rolls by the alternative measures relative to the current official measure. We find that the SPM adds to poverty individuals who are more likely to be college graduates, own a home and a car, live in a larger housing unit, have air conditioning, health insurance, and substantial assets, and have other more favorable characteristics than those who are dropped from poverty. Meanwhile, we find that a consumption measure compared to the official measure or the SPM adds to the poverty rolls individuals who are more disadvantaged than those who are dropped. We decompose the differences between the SPM and official poverty and find that the most problematic aspect of the SPM is the subtraction of medical out-of-pocket expenses from SPM income. Also, because the SPM poverty thresholds change in an odd way over time, it will be hard to determine if changes in poverty are due to changes in income or changes in thresholds. Our results present strong evidence that a consumption-based poverty measure is preferable to both the official income-based poverty measure and to the Supplemental Poverty Measure for determining who are the most disadvantaged.

Vulnerable Populations and Transformative Law Teaching Society of American Law Teachers, Golden Gate...

Vulnerable Populations and Transformative Law Teaching

Author: Society of American Law Teachers, Golden Gate...
Publisher: Carolina Academic Press
Date: 03/2011

The essays included in this volume began as presentations at the March 19–20, 2010 “Vulnerable Populations and Economic Realities” teaching conference organized and hosted by Golden Gate University School of Law and co-sponsored by the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). That conference, generously funded by a grant from The Elfenworks Foundation, brought together law faculty, practitioners, and students to reexamine how issues of race, gender, sexual identity, nationality, disability, and generally—outsider status—are linked to poverty. Contributors have transformed their presentations into essays, offering a variety of roadmaps for incorporating these issues into the law school curriculum, both inside the classroom as well as in clinical and externship settings, study abroad, and social activism. These essays provide glimpses into “teaching moments,” both intentional and organic, to help trigger opportunities for students and faculty to question their own perceptions and experiences about who creates and interprets law, and who has access to power and the force of law. This book expands the parameters of law teaching so that this next generation of attorneys will be dedicated to their roles as public citizens, broadening the availability of justice. Contributors include: John Payton; Richard Delgado; Steven W. Bender; Sarah Valentine; Deborah Post and Deborah Zalesne; Gilbert Paul Carrasco; Michael L. Perlin and Deborah Dorfman; Robin R. Runge; Cynthia D. Bond; Florence Wagman Roisman; Doug Simpson; Anne Marie Harkins and Robin Clark; Douglas Colbert; Raquel Aldana and Leticia Saucedo, Marci Seville; Deirdre Bowen, Daniel Bonilla Maldonado, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Colin Crawford, and James Forman, Jr.; Susan Rutberg; Mary B. Culbert and Sara Campos; MaryBeth Musumeci, Elizabeth Weeks Leonard, and Brutrinia D. Arellano; Libby Adler; and Paulette J. Williams. The editorial board includes Raquel Aldana, Steven Bender, Olympia Duhart, Michele Benedetto Neitz, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Hari Osofsky, and Hazel Weiser.

Further Results on Measuring the Well-being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan

Further Results on Measuring the Well-being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption

Author: Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan
Publisher: Canadian Journal of Economics
Date: 02/2011

We evaluate the relative merits of income- and consumption-based measures of well-being. Our results provide evidence that consumption better captures well-being for those with few resources. The bottom deciles of expenditures exceed those of income, suggesting under-reporting of income. The under-reporting rate for government transfers is high and rising. Overall non-response is more severe in U.S. income data than in expenditure data. Furthermore, a consumption data set requires fewer observations than an income data set to obtain the same level of precision for typical estimates. Finally, very low consumption is more strongly related to other bad outcomes than very low income.

 

The Impact of Early Experience on Childhood Brain Development: Nathan Fox Nathan Fox

The Impact of Early Experience on Childhood Brain Development: Nathan Fox

Author: Nathan Fox
Publisher:
Date: 04/2010

On April 13, 2010, the Center on Children and Families at Brookings and the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University sponsored an event that focused on the science of early brain development and the role that chronic stress early in life plays in the arrested development of children raised in risky situations. The policy implications of these and similar findings were discussed. This segment features Nathan A. Fox, Professor, University of Maryland, describing pioneering work that he and his colleagues carried out in Bucharest, Romania, looking at how institutionalization of children can profoundly harm children’s brain development.