Category Archives: Poverty

2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, June 2008

Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book are now available in our easy-to-use, powerful online database, the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which allows you to generate custom graphs, maps, ranked lists, and state-by-state profiles; or, download the entire data set as delimited text files. The pull-down menus to the left also allow you to read the book online or view the book in PDF format.

From the press release:
National trends in child well-being taken together have improved slightly since 2000, according to a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The 2008 Data Book also presents a clear path to reducing the number of children and youth in America’s justice system. The 19th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book indicators show:
• Five areas of improvement: child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate, high school dropout rate, and teens not in school and not working;
• One area had no change: infant mortality rate; and
• Four areas have worsened: low-birthweight babies, children living in families where no parent has full time year round employment, children in poverty, and children in single parent families.

These national trends are not on par with the well-being improvements that were seen at the end of the 1990s, with little change since 2000. The report cites that more children are living in relative poverty in the United States than in any other economically advanced nation.

State-by-State Costs of Child Poverty in the U.S.

Source: Population Reference Bureau

From the article:
Research has shown that growing up in poverty leads to negative health, social, and economic consequences for children that often continue in adulthood. Compared with other children, children living below the poverty line are less healthy, have lower educational achievement, and are more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system. As adults, they are less likely to attend college or hold a steady job.

In 2006, an estimated 13.3 million U.S. children were living in poverty, and at risk for such lifelong problems. But the individual hardships brought by poverty also exact a staggering financial toll on broader society. One recent estimate has suggested that growing up in poverty costs the United States $500 billion annually in lost potential earnings, involvement with the criminal justice system, and the costs associated with poor health outcomes.

Taking its cue from that cost estimate, as well as campaigns in some states designed to reduce poverty, the KIDS COUNT project in Washington state (affiliated with the University of Washington’s Human Services Poverty Center) has produced state-level estimates of the costs of child poverty. By taking the national estimate of child poverty costs and applying it to the estimated the number of poor children in each state in the 2006 American Community Survey, the study estimates the amount that each state would save annually if child poverty were eliminated.

In 14 states, child poverty yielded an annual cost of more than $10 billion, according to the fact sheet issued by Washington KIDS COUNT. Not surprisingly, the most populous states tended to have the highest annual costs (see map)–mainly because they tend to have the largest numbers of children in poverty. California, with an estimated 1.7 million poor children in 2006, had the highest cost of $63.9 billion, followed by Texas at $57.5 billion and New York at $33.4 billion. Even in the smallest state, Wyoming, growing up poor yields an annual cost of about $500 million.

Working Families and Economic Insecurity in the States: The Role of Job Quality and Work Supports

Source: Shawn Fremstad, Rebecca Ray and Hye Jin Rho, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2008

From the press release:
The federal poverty line does a poor job of measuring economic insecurity in the United States according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). In the typical state, 22 percent of people in working families suffer from economic hardship because their earnings and income from other sources, including public work supports and other public benefits, fall below the basic needs budget standard for where they live. By comparison, only 12.6 percent of Americans live below the federal poverty line.

Death and Taxes: The True Role of Tax Dodging

Source: Christian Aid Report, May 2008

From the summary:
Christian Aid’s new report seeks to expose the scandal of a global tax system that allows the world’s richest to duck their responsibilities while condemning the poorest to stunted development, even premature death.

The situation is stark and urgent. Our report predicts that illegal, trade-related tax evasion alone will be responsible for some 5.6 million deaths of young children in the developing world between 2000 and 2015.

More Older Americans are Poor than the Official Measure Suggests

Source: Sheila R. Zedlewski, Barbara Butrica, Urban Institute, May 15, 2008

From the abstract:
The number of poor adults age 65 and older has declined dramatically since the official poverty rate was designed back in the 1960s. Today the federal government considers fewer than 1 in 10 older adults to be poor, compared with about 1 in 3 in the 1960s. These estimates show the share of people with insufficient income to meet basic living expenses, such as food and housing. However, substantial research shows that the official poverty measure no longer reflects the true resources or needs of older adults.

The lack of an accurate poverty measure for older adults hampers efforts to reform Medicare and Social Security, which face significant revenue shortfalls. Reform proposals often aim to reduce costs by combining benefit cuts with increased cost sharing for older adults. To target any cuts or increased costs to older adults with the greatest ability to pay, an accurate measure of economic well-being is critical.
See also:
Improving The Medicare Savings Programs Would Help Low-Income Seniors Cope With Higher Medical Expenses
Source: Edwin Park and Danilo Trisi, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 20, 2008

State Handbook of Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Indicators 2008

Source: David Baer, AARP Public Policy Institute, Research Report, Pub ID: D19014, April 2008

From the summary:
As state and local economic conditions and demographic patterns change, policymakers may consider adjusting their policies on taxes and spending programs. These adjustments become more difficult when economic and demographic changes depart from historical trends.

Policymakers, public officials, policy analysts and others concerned about such issues will find useful state-level data on population, poverty rates, per capita state personal income, state and local revenues, expenditures, tax rates, and property tax relief programs in this seventh edition of the AARP Public Policy Institute’s biennial databook by David Baer. Since 1993, the reference book has been contributing to more informed public policy decisions by providing economic, demographic, and fiscal information.

The handbook facilitates state-by-state and state-national comparisons, featuring economic, demographic, and fiscal summaries of the entire United States, each state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Gender and age comparisons are provided for some of the data. Tables and maps of selected data are included.

Poverty Facts, 2004

Source: Laura Wheaton, Jamyang Tashi, Urban Institute, April 24, 2008

From the abstract:
In 2004, 36.6 million people–or 12.6 percent of the U.S. population–were poor. The “poverty gap”–the amount of additional income required to remove all Americans from poverty–was $105.6 billion. Poverty rates were highest for African Americans, Hispanics, women, and persons under 25. Without government benefits, 61 million people would be poor. Social Security and other social insurance programs remove 21 million people from poverty. Means tested programs remove 3 million people from poverty. If food and housing assistance were counted as income for poverty purposes, an additional 7.6 million people would be counted as not poor.

Taxing the Poor

Source: PBS NOW, April 11, 2008

This month, millions of Americans are filing their taxes and hoping for the best, but are rich people actually paying a smaller percentage of taxes than the poor? NOW looks at plans in many states to raise sales taxes and lower property taxes in an effort to generate revenue. But those changes may come at an even bigger price. Anti-poverty advocates say this shift would place the heaviest tax burden on the poorest households–and benefit higher-income Americans. Despite the charge, it’s a model many states have long embraced. NOW travels to one of these states, Alabama, to document the personal impact of regressive tax policies on three very different families. They include a working Mom who shows us how a ten percent sales tax on groceries makes a significant difference in what her family eats; a couple living in a ramshackle house in the backwoods who’ve always held jobs but still face hunger; and a well-to-do suburban couple who benefit from huge tax breaks.

Poverty, Programs, and Prices: How Adjusting for Costs of Living Would Affect Federal Benefit Eligibility

Source: Brookings Institution

Public policies rarely account for regional differences in living costs across the country. Applying cost-of-living adjustments to measurements of economic wellbeing and eligibility standards for social programs in 98 central cities reveals that:
• Federal poverty guidelines, often used to determine eligibility for social programs, change significantly when indexed for cost of living (COL) differences. Out of 38 large cities in higher-cost areas in the Northeast and West, 36 experience increases in the federal poverty guidelines. Conversely, more than half of the large cities located in lower-cost areas in the South and Midwest (38 of 60) see shifts in the opposite direction.
• The percentage, number, and distribution of families that are considered poor under federal poverty guidelines would change dramatically in many central cities if regional differences in the cost of living were recognized. In high-cost areas on the East and West coasts, the poor population would increase substantially both in real and proportional terms. Cities like New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA rank among those with the greatest increases in both the number and proportion of poor families under COL-adjusted standards. However, cities in lower-cost areas of the South and West, such as El Paso, TX and Shreveport, LA, have among the largest declines in the number and share of poor families once living costs are taken into account.
• Adjusting federal poverty guidelines for regional differences in the cost of living has a considerable impact on the number of families eligible for public programs. Overall, the share of families eligible for Early Head Start and Head Start as well as the National School Lunch Program would increase 29 percent in large cities across the country. San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, and Bridgeport, CT experience the largest increases in eligibility for these programs, while San Antonio, TX, Corpus Christi, TX, and El Paso, TX see the largest declines in the eligible population under COL-adjusted guidelines.

Full Report (PDF; 1.2 MB)

Resource List for State Anti-Poverty Strategies

Source: National Governors Association

This document provides a list of organizations, individuals and reports that states can use as resources when developing policies to reduce poverty and promote family economic opportunity. Information in the guide includes a list of free technical assistance providers that states can access; descriptions of poverty research centers and institutes; issue specific resources and organizations; and information on national anti-poverty reports, task forces, and projects.

Full Document (PDF; 198 KB)