Category Archives: Poverty

The Bureaucratic Nightmare of Incrementalism

Source: Meagan Day, Jacobin, January 17, 2018

America’s patchwork system of social services makes it hard to care for ourselves. ….

….It’s actually less expensive to spend public money on shelter instead — and meanwhile, people who receive shelter see significantly better health outcomes, which can help them attain overall stability.

Some cities and states have recently acknowledged this calculus. Salt Lake City’s enormously successful Housing First initiative has reduced chronic homelessness in the city by 91 percent by providing housing to homeless people without requiring proof of employment, treatment, or counseling — the principle being that housing comes first, making other services easier to administer. Houston, too, has seen major improvement in both homeless people’s health outcomes and the city’s budget with its Integrated Care for the Chronically Homeless program, which uses Medicaid funding to provide permanent supportive housing units to homeless people who make at least three emergency room visits over two years.

These initiatives are a big step in the right direction, since they take into account the close relationship between health care and housing security — issues that are usually siloed to detrimental effect. But programs like these face serious obstacles. In particular, it’s extremely hard to coordinate among a kaleidoscope of separate federal, state, and local agencies, social program stipulations, and funding streams..;…

To tally seniors in poverty, go beyond income

Source: Jason Maderer, Futurity, January 12, 2018

More older Americans live in deprivation than official US statistics suggest, according to research in a new book.

In her research, Shatakshee Dhongde, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, found that 12.27 percent of senior citizens were deprived in two or more crucial areas, including multiple disabilities, low income, a lack of education, and severe housing burden.

Dhongde says the research illustrates a shortcoming in the official measure of poverty in the United States, which focuses solely on income.

The federal government reported that 9.5 percent of older Americans were living in poverty in 2013. That’s below the 12.3 percent rate found in Dhondge’s new multidimensional poverty index. ….

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

Source: Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, December 15, 2017

The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation…..

Related:
Statement on Visit to the USA
Source: Philip Alston – United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, December 15, 2017

…..My visit coincides with a dramatic change of direction in US policies relating to inequality and extreme poverty. The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.  It is against this background that my report is presented.

The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty…..

An anti-poverty effort created jobs but didn’t fix inequality

Source: Alex Shashkevich, Futurity, November 2, 2017

New research examines former President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiative in the 1960s and its legacy in American cities.

In an article in the Journal of Urban History, historian Claire Dunning argues that New Careers, one of Johnson’s lesser-known anti-poverty programs, and the theory behind it contributed to the growth of the nonprofit sector across the United States, but also perpetuated inequality in urban areas. It’s a lesson, Dunning says, that should not be forgotten…..

…..New Careers, which existed between the mid-1960s and early 1970s, awarded grants to a large swath of nonprofit sector organizations, which included large hospitals and schools, as well as small community daycares and health clinics, to create new human services positions for local workers who lacked professional training.

Dunning’s research shows that while New Careers created between 250,000 and 400,000 nonprofessional jobs, according to some estimates, it also inspired a wider approach to creating entry-level jobs in the human services fields. Those jobs—predominantly taken by African-African and Latina women who were typically excluded from contemporary job programs designed for men, like manufacturing—were low wage and without the promised career advancement that eager officials advertised, Dunning says…..

Related:

New Careers for the Poor: Human Services and the Post-Industrial City
Source: Claire Dunning, Journal of Urban History, First Published August 26, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the 1960s, a new and popular theory of “new careers” proposed to address urban poverty and deindustrialization by growing the human services sector and hiring so-called nonprofessional workers to aid the delivery of those services. This strategy gained traction in social scientific, philanthropic, and bureaucratic circles and shaped Great Society legislation, which allocated federal grants to create entry-level jobs and professionalizing career ladders in the fields of health, education, and welfare. The implementation of this strategy had consequences for the human service organizations that received federal funds, as well as for the people hired into the new positions. Instead of building ladders to professional employment, efforts produced dead-end positions that left the predominantly African American women hired as aides in poverty. Even as the new careers experiment helped usher in a post-industrial economy, it reinforced the stratification of the labor market along lines of race, gender, and credentials.

Poverty and educational achievement in the US: A less-biased estimate using PISA 2012 data

Source: David Rutkowski, Leslie Rutkowski, Justin Wild & Nathan Burroughs, Journal of Children and Poverty, Published online: November, 23 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the current paper, we employ the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data to calculate a less-biased estimate of poverty on US achievement. The PISA was specifically chosen as it is an assessment removed from a specific curriculum and instead focuses on concepts that students should know in order to participate in a global economy. Using a propensity score matching approach, our findings suggest that US students in poverty have notable educational attainment deficiencies compared to a matched group of students who are not in poverty. In other words, when we select two students who have a great deal in common but for the fact that one comes from a poverty background, the student in poverty is expected to perform nearly 28 points, or about a quarter of a standard deviation lower, on the PISA assessment. In real terms, this puts math achievement for children not in poverty on-par with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, while children in poverty are well below the OECD average.

Who is poor in the United States? A Hamilton Project annual report

Source: Jay Shambaugh, Lauren Bauer, and Audrey Breitwieser, Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project, October 2017

From the introduction:
Who are the millions of people living in poverty in the United States?

In 2016, 40.6 million people, or 12.7 percent of the population, lived in poverty, as defined by the official poverty measure. 6 million fewer people were living in poverty in 2016 than at the peak of 46.7 million in 2014. The official poverty measure is determined by a household’s pre-tax income; for example, in 2016, a family of four earning less than $24,339 would be considered poor.

From 1980 to 2014, the number of people living in poverty in the United States grew from about 29.3 million to 46.7 million. Over this same period, the pre-tax income of the bottom quintile of earnings grew 4 percent while incomes of the top 1 percent grew 194 percent. From 1980 to 2016, growth in the number of people in poverty has come largely from working-age adults.

In this economic analysis, we characterize those who were living in poverty in 2016, as we reported for 2014 and 2015. We then extend these snapshots to examine the population living in poverty over time: how have the characteristics of those living in poverty changed over the past 30 years? We focus particularly on the working-age poor. What share of the working-age poor are in the labor force? What are the most prevalent reasons for labor force nonparticipation among the working-age poor? For those who are working part-time and poor, is it involuntary or for reasons specific to their circumstances?

Breaking the Cycle? Intergenerational Effects of an Anti-Poverty Program in Early Childhood

Source: Andrew Barr, Chloe R. Gibbs, Texas A&M University and Notre Dame, August 2017

From the abstract:
Despite substantial evidence that resources and outcomes are transmitted across generations, there has been limited inquiry into the extent to which anti-poverty programs actually disrupt the cycle of bad outcomes. We explore how the effects of the United States’ largest early childhood program transfer across generations. We leverage the geographic rollout of this federally funded, means-tested preschool program to estimate the effect of early childhood exposure among mothers on their children’s long-term outcomes. We find evidence of intergenerational transmission of effects in the form of increased educational attainment, reduced teen pregnancy, and reduced criminal engagement in the second generation.

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2016

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, Release Number: CB17-156, September 12, 2017

Real median household income increased by 3.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, while the official poverty rate decreased 0.8 percentage points. ….

….These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016. This year’s income and poverty report marks the 50th anniversary of the first poverty estimates released by the Census Bureau in the Current Population report series.

Another Census Bureau report, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2016, was also released today. The supplemental poverty rate in 2016 was 13.9 percent, a decrease from 14.5 percent in 2015. With support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure shows a different way of measuring poverty in the United States and serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being. The Census Bureau has published poverty estimates using the supplemental poverty measure annually since 2011.

The Current Population Survey, sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, is conducted every month and is the primary source of labor force statistics for the U.S. population; it is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate estimates. Supplements are added in most months; the Annual Social and Economic Supplement questionnaire is designed to give annual, national estimates of income, poverty and health insurance numbers and rates. The most recent Annual Social and Economic Supplement was conducted nationwide and collected information about income and health insurance coverage during the 2016 calendar year. ….

‘What can I do’? Child welfare workers’ perceptions of what they can do to address poverty

Source: Juliana Carlson, Journal of Children and Poverty, Latest Articles, Published online: 02 Aug 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Within the field of child welfare, critical questions have been posed about the intersecting issues of child maltreatment and poverty. The study of the quality and nature of this intersection has continued relevance in light of evidence showing the increased likelihood of maltreatment of children living in poverty. Although child welfare workers interact directly with families involved with the child welfare system, the study of workers’ perceptions of whether or not they address families’ poverty and, if so, how they go about it has not yet been conducted. The study presented begins to address this gap. Analysis from individual interviews with 30 child welfare workers revealed that they differed in their perception of whether or not poverty should be addressed by child welfare and how. Findings suggest workers do what they can despite various barriers, including families’ limitations and the fragile US social welfare safety net. Based on the findings, current practice models and policies that impact poverty and child maltreatment reduction are discussed.

Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile

Source: Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), June 2017

….This 2017 release of the 50-state profile project provides a snapshot of early childhood data available for children who are experiencing homelessness in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It includes publicly available data for the year 2014-2015 from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and reports the following by state:
● Total population under age 6 in 2015
● Estimated number of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness in 2014-15
● Estimated percent of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness in 2014-15
● Estimated extent of homelessness (e.g. one in [X] children under age 6 experienced homelessness in 2014
-15)
● Estimated enrollment of children under age 6 in federally-funded early childhood programs for which data were available in 2014-2015 including Head Start and Local Education Agencies receiving McKinney-Vento subgrants in 2014-2015. Data were not available in 2014-2015 for the Child Care and Development Fund (subsidized child care) and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (evidence-based home visiting).

The 2017 release also includes two new related factors indicators; the percentage of families experiencing a high housing cost burden and the percentage of low-income working families with young children under age 6. These factors we included because of their relationship to homelessness and to spark dialogue about addressing homelessness for children under age 6. This data will also be available in future years…..