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

Sara Kimberlin's picture Sara Kimberlin Senior Policy Analyst
California Budget Center
Ray Pahl's picture Ray Pahl Deceased
University of Essex
Robert Erikson's picture Robert Erikson Professor, Institute for Social Research
Stockholm University
Sandra Susan Smith's picture Sandra Susan Smith Assistant Professor, Sociology
University of California, Berkeley
Alberto Diaz-Cayeros's picture Alberto Diaz-Cayeros Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law (CDDRL); Director of the Center for Latin American Studies; Professor of Political Science (by courtesy)
Stanford University

Pages

Poverty - Other Research

Title Author Media
America Unequal Sheldon Danziger and Peter Gottschalk

America Unequal

Author: Sheldon Danziger and Peter Gottschalk
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Date:
The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence Olivier J. Blanchard and Justin Wolfers

The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence

Author: Olivier J. Blanchard and Justin Wolfers
Publisher: The Economic Journal
Date:
Assimilation and Stratification in the Homeownership Patterns of Racial and Ethnic Groups Alba, Richard D. and John .R. Logan

Assimilation and Stratification in the Homeownership Patterns of Racial and Ethnic Groups

Author: Alba, Richard D. and John .R. Logan
Publisher: International Migration Review
Date:
Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream Barbara Ehrenreich

Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date:
Securing Prosperity Paul Osterman

Securing Prosperity

Author: Paul Osterman
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Date: