Category Archives: Poverty

States Perform

Source: Council of State Governments, 2017

States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for 50 states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Compare performance across a few or all states, profile one state, view trends over time, and customize your results with graphs and maps.

Understanding the Intersection of Medicaid and Work

Source: Rachel Garfield, Robin Rudowitz and Anthony Damico, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, February 2017

From the overview:
Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low incomes. Overall, the Medicaid program covers more than 70 million Americans, or 1 in 5, including many with complex and costly needs for care. Historically, nonelderly, non-disabled adults accounted for a small share (27%) of Medicaid enrollees; however, the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded coverage to nonelderly adults with income up to 138% FPL, or $16,394 for an individual in 2016. As of January 2017, 32 states have implemented the ACA Medicaid expansion. By design, the expansion extended coverage to the working poor (both parents and childless adults), most of whom do not otherwise have access to affordable coverage. With the expansion to more “able-bodied” adults, questions have arisen about tying work to eligibility.

President Trump may consider waiver proposals with a work requirement, and the Administration and leaders in Congress are considering proposals to repeal the ACA and to transform Medicaid from an entitlement program with guaranteed federal matching dollars for states to a block grant with no entitlement and capped funding. Such proposals would grant states additional flexibility to design and administer their programs and potentially include an option to allow states to impose a work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries, which is not allowed under current law. This issue brief examines the work status of non-elderly, non-disabled adults with Medicaid coverage to understand the potential implications of work requirement proposals in Medicaid.

Children’s health insurance, family income, and welfare enrollment

Source: Martin Saavedra, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 73, February 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Children from wealthier families are more likely to have health insurance than children from poorer families on average. However, the relationship between family income and health insurance is non-linear, as children near the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) are less likely to be insured than children from both wealthier families (who obtain health insurance from the private market) and poorer families (who obtain government-funded health insurance). This health insurance dip has persisted even as Medicaid has been expanded to cover those above the FPL. One explanation for this is that families who are far below the poverty line are better connected to the welfare system, and consequently, are more likely to enroll in Medicaid. This study uses data from the 2001–2013 Current Population Surveys and finds that (1) controlling for many of the determinants of eligibility, those on other forms of government assistance are more likely to have health insurance, and (2) the relationship between family income and children’s health insurance status is strictly increasing after controlling for enrollment in other welfare programs


• Children near the poverty line are some of the least likely to have health insurance.
• Children on public assistance are more likely to have insurance.
• The insurance-income relationship is increasing after controlling for welfare enrollment.

New index of economic marginalisation helps explain Trump, Brexit and alt.right

Source: Andrew Cumbers, The Conversation, January 12, 2017

….Much has been said about the crisis of liberal political democracy, but these trends look inextricably linked with what is sometimes referred to as economic democracy. This is about how well dispersed economic decision-making power is and how much control and financial security people have over their lives. I’ve been involved in a project to look at how this compares between different countries. The results say much about the point we have reached, and where we might be heading in future.

Our economic democracy index looked at 32 countries in the OECD (omitting Turkey and Mexico, which had too much missing data). While economic democracy tends to focus on levels of trade union influence and the extent of cooperative ownership in a country, we wanted to take in other relevant factors.

We added three additional indicators: “workplace and employment rights”; “distribution of economic decision-making powers”, including everything from the strength of the financial sector to the extent to which tax powers are centralised; and “transparency and democratic engagement in macroeconomic decision-making”, which takes in corruption, accountability, central bank transparency and different social partners’ involvement in shaping policy…..

….The index provides strong evidence that xenophobic politics may be linked to changing levels of economic participation and empowerment – notwithstanding the French data. We found that the greater the poverty and inequality in a country, the lower the rates of economic democracy.

These findings suggest, for example, that the Anglo-American-led attack on trade unions and flexible labour policies may actually drive up poverty and inequality by cutting welfare benefits and driving up individual employment insecurity. While the OECD itself advocated these policies until recently, countries with high levels of economic democracy such as Norway, Denmark and Iceland have much lower levels of poverty than countries such as the US and UK…..
Democratising the economy: Transforming Public Policy Through Economic Democracy

Past Due: Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans

Source: Mathilde Laisne, Jon Wool, and Christian Henrichson, Vera Institute of Justice, January 2017

From the overview:
In 2015, government agencies in New Orleans collected $4.5 million in the form of bail, fines and fees from people involved in the criminal justice system and, by extension, from their families. Another $4.7 million was transferred from the pockets of residents to for-profit bail bond agents. These costs have become the subject of considerable public attention. Because many “users” of the system have very low incomes or none at all, there is growing concern that charging for justice amounts to criminalizing poverty, especially when people who can’t pay become further entangled in the justice system. In 2015, the city spent $6.4 million to incarcerate people who couldn’t pay bail or conviction fines and fees. By focusing on bail decisions and fines and fees assessed at conviction, Past Due, and its accompanying technical report, reveals the costs and other consequences of a system that tries to extract money from low-income people and then jails them when they can’t pay.
Technical Report

Demographic and Social Characteristics of Persons in Poverty: 2015

Source: Joseph Dalaker, Gene Falk, Maggie McCarty, Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS Report, R44698, November 30, 2016

This report provides a snapshot of the characteristics of the poor in the United States in 2015. It shows that people from families whose income falls below the federal poverty thresholds represent a diverse subset of the overall population….

The National Pension Crisis: A Test in Law, Economics, and Morality

Source: Donald C Carroll, University of San Francisco – School of Law, University of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2016-23, 2016

From the abstract:
This article explores the national retirement income security crisis. While the current arguments about how to meet the crisis portray the problem as both financial and political, this article concedes that America’s workers do not have financial and political arguments for making their November-December years secure. They do have, however, a strong moral argument which needs to be explicitly acknowledged so that the crisis is not seen solely as one of finance or political will.

This article explores in some detail how the three-legged stool of private/public pension plans, personal savings, and Social Security is failing to provide a fundamental minimum of security for too many people. The language of the Judeo-Christian tradition inherent in Catholic Social Teaching is employed. The article argues that adequate security for old age is an inherent part of a living wage. In addition, the author asserts that neither private employers nor the taxpayers are entitled to the labor of employees who have to face their last years with inadequate security. The article does not propose any particular solution in new laws or policy because the province of moral criticism is to evaluate the effects of laws and policies both old and new.

Retirement Security Legislation in the States

Source: Anna Petrini, LegisBrief, Vol. 24 no. 44, November 2016
(subscription required)

Even as they are living longer, many Americans—especially those working in the private sector— are not saving enough to ensure a comfortable retirement. Concerned about costs for public assistance programs if their citizens retire into poverty, states have begun exploring a spectrum of policy solutions to avert a retirement savings crisis.

Census Bureau Releases 2015 Income and Poverty Estimates for All Counties

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, Release Number: CB16-TPS.153, December 14, 2016

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest findings from its Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program. The program provides the only up-to-date, single-year income and poverty statistics for all counties and school districts — roughly 3,140 counties and over 13,000 school districts nationally.

The tables provide statistics on the number of people in poverty, the number of children younger than age 5 in poverty (for states only), the number of children ages 5 to 17 in families in poverty, the number of children younger than age 18 in poverty, and median household income. At the school district level, estimates are available for the total population, the number of children ages 5 to 17 and the number of children ages 5 to 17 in families in poverty.

These findings are a combination of the latest data from the American Community Survey with aggregate data from federal tax records, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Supplemental Security Income, decennial censuses and the Population Estimates Program.

– Based on estimates for all 3,141 counties, 14.0 percent of counties (440) had a statistically significant increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015 when adjusting for inflation. In the same period, 1.6 percent (51 counties) had a statistically significant decrease in their median household income.
– Based on poverty rate statistics for all 3,141 counties, 1.5 percent of counties (46) had a statistically significant increase in poverty rates and 7.8 percent (244 counties) had a statistically significant decrease for all ages from 2014 to 2015.
– Among the 13,245 U.S. school districts, the median estimated poverty rate for school-aged children was 16.5 percent in 2015. Additionally, for all U.S. school districts 37.3 percent (4,935 school districts) had a school-aged poverty rate greater than 20.0 percent.
– Between 2007 (prior to the most recent recession) and 2015, 10.8 percent of counties (338) had a statistically significant increase in their median household income when adjusting for inflation. During the same period, 14.8 percent (464 counties) had a statistically significant decrease in their median household income.
– Between 2007 and 2015, 18.1 percent of counties (569) had a statistically significant increase in their poverty rate for all ages. During the same period, 2.0 percent (63 counties) had a statistically significant decrease in their poverty rate.

Change in Median Household Income by County: 2014 to 2015
December 14, 2016
Map showing percent change in median household income by county for 2014 to 2015.
Change in Median Household Income by County: 2007 to 2015
December 14, 2016
Map showing percent change in median household income by county for 2007 to 2015.