Category Archives: Poverty

Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood

Source: Mark R. Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Vol. 163 no. 11, November 2009
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From the abstract:
Between the ages of 1 to 20 years, nearly half (49.2%) of all American children will, at some point, reside in a household that receives food stamps. Households in need of the program use it for relatively short periods but are also likely to return to the program at several points during the childhood years. Race, parental education, and head of household’s marital status exert a strong influence on the proportion of children residing in a food stamp household.

American children are at a high risk of encountering a spell during which their families are in poverty and food insecure as indicated through their use of food stamps. Such events have the potential to seriously jeopardize a child’s overall health.

The Economic Costs of Childhood Poverty in the United States

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Greg J. Duncan, Jens Ludwig, Journal of Children and Poverty, Volume 14 Issue 1, March 2008
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From the abstract:
This paper attempts to estimate the aggregate annual costs of child poverty to the US economy. It begins with a review of rigorous research studies that estimate the statistical association between children growing up in poverty and their earnings, propensity to commit crime, and quality of health later in life. We also review estimates of the costs that crime and poor health impose on the economy. Then we aggregate all of these average costs per poor child across the total number of children growing up in poverty in the United States to obtain our estimate of the aggregate costs of the conditions associated with childhood poverty to the US economy. Our results suggest that these costs total about $500 billion per year, or the equivalent of nearly 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). More specifically, we estimate that childhood poverty each year: (1) reduces productivity and economic output by an amount equal to 1.3% of GDP, (2) raises the costs of crime by 1.3% of GDP, and (3) raises health expenditures and reduces the value of health by 1.2% of GDP.

Measure by Measure: the Current Poverty Measure v. the National Academy of Sciences Measures

Source: Dorothy Smith, Center for Law and Social Policy, November 2009

The current poverty measure is widely considered outmoded. Measure by Measure: the Current Poverty Measure v. the National Academy of Sciences Measures, for the first time, lists how poverty rates change in each state using a modern measure based on NAS recommendations.

Civil Rights and the Low-Wage Worker

Source: University of Chicago Legal Forum, Volume 2009
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Articles include:

* Noah D. Zatz – The Minimum Wage as a Civil Rights Protection: An Alternative to Antipoverty Arguments?
* David A. Weisbach – Toward a New Approach to Disability Law
* Maria L. Ontiveros – Labor Union Coalition Challenges to Governmental Action: Defending the Civil Rights of Low-Wage Workers
* Michael Selmi – Unions, Education, and the Future of Low-Wage Workers
* Scott L. Cummings, Steven A. Boutcher – Mobilizing Local Government Law for Low-Wage Workers
* Kathleen Kim – The Trafficked Worker as Private Attorney General: A Model for Enforcing the Civil Rights of Undocumented Workers
* Devah Pager, Bruce Western, David Pedulla – Employment Discrimination and the Changing Landscape of Low-Wage Labor Markets
* Leticia M. Saucedo – Three Theories of Discrimination in the Brown Collar Workplace
* Michael A. Stoll – Ex-Offenders, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Consequences in the Labor Market
* Ruben J. Garcia- Toward Fundemental Change for the Protection of Low-Wage Workers: The ‘Workers’ Rights are Human Rights’ Debates in the Obama Era
* Benjamin F. Burry – Testing Economic Reality: FLSA and Title VII Protection for Workfare Participants

Poverty and Local Governments: Economic Development and Community Service Provision in an Era of Decentralization

Source: Linda Lobao, Davie Kraybill, Growth and Change, Volume 40 Issue 3, published online: 2 Sep 2009
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From the abstract:
Social scientists have given substantial attention to poverty across U.S. localities. However, most work views localities through the lens of population aggregates, not as units of government. Few poverty researchers question whether governments of poorer localities have the capacity to engage in economic development and service activities that might improve community well-being. This issue is increasingly important as responsibilities for growth and redistribution are decentralized to local governments that vary dramatically in resources. Do poorer communities have less activist local governments? Are they more likely to be engaged in a race to the bottom, focusing on business attraction activities but neglecting services for families and working people? We bring together two distinct literatures, critical research on decentralization and research on local development efforts, that provide contrasting views about the penalty of poverty. Data are from a unique, national survey of county governments measuring activity across two time points. The most consistent determinants of activity are local government capacity, devolutionary pressures, and inertia or past use of strategies. Net of these factors, levels and changes in poverty do not significantly impact government activity. There is no evidence the nations’ poorest counties are racing to the bottom. Findings challenge views that poverty is a systematic structural barrier to pursuing innovative economic development policies and suggest that even poorer communities can take steps to build local capacity, resources, and networks that expand programs for local businesses and low-wage people.

Alternative Income and Poverty Estimates: 2008

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, October 2009

From the summary:
The Census Bureau will release alternative income and poverty estimates covering calendar year 2008. The data were collected from the 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The first set of alternative measures include poverty estimates only and are based on recommendations from a 1995 National Academy of Sciences panel on measuring poverty. These estimates use a broadened definition of income and a set of poverty thresholds that are conceptually consistent with this income measure. The second set of alternative measures includes both income and poverty estimates and shows the impact of cash and noncash benefits and taxes on the distribution of income and prevalence of poverty. The poverty estimates in this series are based on the official poverty thresholds. Both of these alternative measures are similar to estimates released in January 2009 covering calendar year 2007 from the 2008 CPS ASEC.

U.S. Food Stamp Enrollment Rises

Source: Nadwa Mossaad, Population Reference Bureau, October 2009

Timely economic data provide the means to assess the severity of the current economic hardship on the U.S. population. Official poverty estimates released on Sept. 10, 2009, by the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2008, the poverty rate rose to 13.2 percent, and child poverty increased from 18 percent in 2007 to 19 percent, the highest level since 1997. Another measure of economic hardship, the monthly unemployment rate, rose to 9.7 percent in August 2009, a 26-year high.

Poverty and unemployment rates help to track the long-term economic health of families and individuals, but both are indirect measures of economic hardship. A more direct measure of family economic need is the number of individuals and families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the federal Food Stamp Program. The amount of assistance depends on household size, income, and expenses. SNAP participation rates have increased dramatically in recent months and could increase even further as income levels drop and more families become eligible.

Overlooked and Underserved – The Crisis Facing America’s Older Workers

Source: Experience Works, September 2009

From the summary:
In a new study of more than 2,000 low-income unemployed workers age 55 and older, 46 percent need to find jobs so they don’t lose their homes or apartments, and approximately half (49 percent) have been looking for work for more than a year.

Many of the older workers in the study did not plan to be looking for work in their 60s, 70s and 80s, but a life event triggered their need to find employment. These triggering events include being laid off (20 percent); the death of a spouse (16 percent); and large medical bills due to a personal illness or illness of a spouse (15 percent).

More than one-third (38 percent) of older workers surveyed had retired but they are going back to work, and many have no end in sight for their working years.

For those who do have a retirement timeframe, the average targeted retirement age is 72. Ninety percent of survey respondents age 76 and older plan to continue working in the next five years.