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
State of the States: Poverty Marybeth J. Mattingly, Charles Varner

State of the States: Poverty

Author: Marybeth J. Mattingly, Charles Varner
Publisher:
Date: 02/2015
Rising Extreme Poverty in the United States and the Response of Federal Means-Tested Transfer Programs Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Schaefer

Rising Extreme Poverty in the United States and the Response of Federal Means-Tested Transfer Programs

Author: Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Schaefer
Publisher: Social Service Review
Date: 06/2013

This study documents an increase in the prevalence of extreme poverty among US households with children between 1996 and 2011 and assesses the response of major federal means-tested transfer programs. Extreme poverty is defined using a World Bank metric of global poverty: $2 or less, per person, per day. Using the 1996–2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we estimate that in mid-2011, 1.65 million households with 3.55 million children were living in extreme poverty in a given month, based on cash income, constituting 4.3 percent of all nonelderly households with children. The prevalence of extreme poverty has risen sharply since 1996, particularly among those most affected by the 1996 welfare reform. Adding SNAP benefits to household income reduces the number of extremely poor households with children by 48.0 percent in mid-2011. Adding SNAP, refundable tax credits, and housing subsidies reduces it by 62.8 percent.

 

Poverty Requires Disaster Relief Michele Dauber

Poverty Requires Disaster Relief

Author: Michele Dauber
Publisher:
Date: 12/2012
Housing and the Great Recession Ingrid Gould Ellen, Samuel Dastrup

Housing and the Great Recession

Author: Ingrid Gould Ellen, Samuel Dastrup
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The story of the Great Recession cannot be told without addressing housing and, in particular, the dramatic decline in housing prices that began in late 2006. A distinctive feature of the Great Recession is its intimate connection to the housing sector; indeed many would argue that the Great Recession was triggered by the widespread failure of risky mortgage products. Whatever the sources of the Great Recession may have been, the housing sector is still deeply troubled and is a key contributor to our ongoing economic duress. This recession brief lays out the main features of the downturn in the housing sector.

The Labor Force and the Great Recession Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth

The Labor Force and the Great Recession

Author: Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Recession and the slow recovery since have been the longest economic slump in seventy years. It affected vulnerable populations more than others. In this brief, our aim is to put this disaster into historical context, looking first at the overall state of the labor market and then at how the economic harm has been distributed across the population by gender, level of education, and race and ethnicity.

poverty - CPI Affiliates

Tim Biblarz's picture Tim Biblarz Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies
University of Southern California
Gary N. Marks's picture Gary N. Marks Principal Research Fellow, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
Australian Catholic University
Walter Korpi's picture Walter Korpi Professor, Swedish Institute for Social Research
Stockholm University
Gary Sandefur's picture Gary Sandefur Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Professor of Sociology
Oklahoma State University
David Betson Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics
University of Notre Dame

Pages

Poverty - Other Research

Title Author Media
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date:

Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job - any job - can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity - a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival.

Poverty and Discrimination Lester C. Thurow

Poverty and Discrimination

Author: Lester C. Thurow
Publisher: The Brookings Institution
Date:
Sidewalk Mitchell Duneier

Sidewalk

Author: Mitchell Duneier
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date:
Housing Discrimination in Metropolitan America: Explaining Changes between 1989 and 2000 Stephen L. Ross and Margery Austin Turner

Housing Discrimination in Metropolitan America: Explaining Changes between 1989 and 2000

Author: Stephen L. Ross and Margery Austin Turner
Publisher: Social Problems
Date:
Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence Timothy Besley and Robin Burgess

Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence

Author: Timothy Besley and Robin Burgess
Publisher: Quarterly Journal of Economics
Date: