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
Getting a Job Mark Granovetter

Getting a Job

Author: Mark Granovetter
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Date: 03/1995

poverty - CPI Affiliates

Yu-Ling Chang Assistant Professor of Social Welfare
University of California, Berkeley
George Farkas's picture George Farkas Professor, School of Education
UC Irvine
Michelle Wilde Anderson Professor of Law; Pathways Editorial Board Member
Stanford University
Harold R. Kerbo's picture Harold R. Kerbo Professor of Sociology
California Polytechnic State University
Chris Wimer Co-Director, Center on Poverty and Social Policy
Columbia University


Poverty - Other Research

Title Author Media
Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable? John M. Quigley and Steven Raphael

Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable?

Author: John M. Quigley and Steven Raphael
Publisher: Journal of Economic Perspectives
Punishment and Inequality in America Bruce Western

Punishment and Inequality in America

Author: Bruce Western
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations

Author: Adam Smith
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
The Dual Economy Averitt, Robert T.

The Dual Economy

Author: Averitt, Robert T.
Publisher: New York: Norton
Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century Harry Braverman

Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century

Author: Harry Braverman
Publisher: Monthly Review Press