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
Poverty and the Great Recession Sheldon Danziger, Koji Chavez, Erin Cumberworth

Poverty and the Great Recession

Author: Sheldon Danziger, Koji Chavez, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

Severe economic downturns, like the Great Depression, are associated with substantial increases in poverty and material hardship. Since the Great Depression, the United States has developed programs and policies, many of which were launched during the New Deal and the War on Poverty-Great Society periods, that aim to protect the poor, the unemployed, children, the disabled, and the elderly against severe deprivation. It is important to examine how these programs performed during the most severe recession the country has experienced since the Great Depression.

Tracks of Hope: The Forgotten Story of America's Runaway Train and How We Can Change its Course Speeth, Lauren

Tracks of Hope: The Forgotten Story of America's Runaway Train and How We Can Change its Course

Author: Speeth, Lauren
Publisher: The Elfenworks Foundation
Date: 11/2007
Poverty and Inequality David B. Grusky, S. M. Ravi Kanbur, Amartya Kumar Sen

Poverty and Inequality

Author: David B. Grusky, S. M. Ravi Kanbur, Amartya Kumar Sen
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Date: 01/2006
Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage Kathryn Edin, Maria Kefalas

Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage

Author: Kathryn Edin, Maria Kefalas
Publisher: University of California Press
Date: 03/2005
Making Ends Meet Kathryn Edin, Laura Lein

Making Ends Meet

Author: Kathryn Edin, Laura Lein
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 04/1997

Poverty - CPI Affiliates

Harold R. Kerbo Professor of Sociology California Polytechnic State University
Haya Stier Associate Professor Tel Aviv University
Herbert J. Gans Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology Columbia University
Ivan Szelenyi William Graham Sumner Professor of Sociology; Professor of Political Science Yale University
Janet Currie Professor of Economics; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research Columbia University

Pages

Poverty - Other Research

Title Author Media
The Transition to Home Ownership and the Black-White Wealth Gap Charles, Kerwin Kofi, Erik Hurst

The Transition to Home Ownership and the Black-White Wealth Gap

Author: Charles, Kerwin Kofi, Erik Hurst
Publisher:
Date: 03/2000
From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women’s Paid Labor Dora L. Costa

From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women’s Paid Labor

Author: Dora L. Costa
Publisher: Journal of Economic Perspectives
Date: 03/2000
Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition Blau, Francine D., and John W. Graham

Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition

Author: Blau, Francine D., and John W. Graham
Publisher: Quarterly Journal of Economics
Date: 03/1989
Falling from Grace Katherine S. Newman

Falling from Grace

Author: Katherine S. Newman
Publisher: University of California Press
Date:
Expanding Homes and Increasing Inequalities: U.S. Housing Development and the Residential Segregation of the Affluent Rachel E. Dwyer

Expanding Homes and Increasing Inequalities: U.S. Housing Development and the Residential Segregation of the Affluent

Author: Rachel E. Dwyer
Publisher: Social Problems
Date: