Category Archives: Poverty

Why Did Poverty Drop for the Elderly?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, April Wu, and Josh Hurwitz, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Issue Brief, IB#10-16, September 2010

From the abstract:
The Census Bureau just reported a large increase in poverty in the United States. Driven by job loss and long-term unemployment, the poverty rate rose from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent, as 3.7 million more Americans found themselves with incomes below the poverty threshold. Individuals aged 55-64 followed the national trend as they shared in job losses. Those 65 and over, however, saw a decline in their poverty rate. This outcome was the result of the timing of two different adjustments to reflect changes in consumer prices – an extraordinarily large cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) awarded to Social Security beneficiaries in 2009 and a decline in the index used to adjust the poverty threshold for 2009. This pattern is likely to be reversed in the future as Social Security beneficiaries receive no COLAs in 2010 and 2011 and the poverty threshold increases.
See also:
The Not-So-Golden Years – Confronting Elderly Poverty and Improving Seniors’ Economic Security
Source: Alexandra Cawthorne, Center for American Progress, September 27, 2010

Credit Where Credit is (Over) Due

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), September 2010

State tax systems have the potential to play an important role in curbing the impact of poverty and ensuring economic security for all residents. Unfortunately, state tax policy as it is currently structured usually works directly contrary to these goals, and creates an uneven playing field for low-income workers. In most states, truly remedying this unfairness would require fundamental tax reform. Short of this, however, lawmakers can utilize their states’ tax systems as a means of providing affordable and targeted assistance to the growing number of people and families living in poverty. Virtually every state could jump-start their anti-poverty efforts with relatively little effort by enacting one or more of these four proven and effective tax reforms: Refundable state Earned Income Tax Credits, property tax circuit breakers, targeted low-income credits, and child-related tax credits.

Earning More, Receiving Less: Loss of Benefits and Child Hunger

Source: Annie Gayman, Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, John T. Cook, Elizabeth L. March, Sharon Coleman, Mariana Chilton, and Deborah A. Frank, Children’s HealthWatch, September 2010

New research from Children’s HealthWatch shows that increases in income that trigger loss of public assistance benefits can leave young children without enough food to eat. Families that have been cut off from SNAP or TANF when their income exceeds eligibility limits are more likely to experience levels of food insecurity that require reducing the size or frequency of children’s meals compared to those currently receiving benefits. Previous research has demonstrated that both SNAP and TANF reduce the likelihood of food insecurity. Income eligibility guidelines should be re-examined to ensure that a modest increase in income does not disqulaify a family from the benefits they need to keep their children healthy and well-fed. Families that successfully increase their earnings should not find themselves worse off due to a resulting loss of benefits.

Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences

Source: Caroline Ratcliffe, Signe-Mary McKernan, Urban Institute, June 30, 2010

From the abstract:
The U.S. child poverty rate has fluctuated between 15 and 23 percent for the past four decades, but far more children–37 percent–live in poverty at some point during their childhoods. Being poor at birth strongly predicts future poverty status. Using the PSID, this study finds that 49 percent of children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty. In addition, children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families.
Born Poor? Half of These Babies Will Spend Most of Their Childhoods in Poverty; Significantly More Likely to Be Poor 30 Years Later

Poverty Among Women and Families, 2000-2009: Great Recession Brings Highest Rate in 15 Years

Source: National Women’s Law Center, September 2010

From the summary:
The latest Census Bureau data show a significant and alarming increase in poverty and extreme poverty among women, men and children in the United States in 2009. Poverty among women rose to 13.9 percent, up from 13.0 percent in 2008 — the highest rate in 15 years and the largest single-year increase since 1980. More than 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, the largest number since the Census began collecting this data in 1966. Poverty among children also reached a 15-year high, rising from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009. These increases mirror the rise in the overall poverty rate from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent in 2009, also the largest single-year increase since 1980.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish – Why Tackling Child Poverty During the Great Recession Makes Economic Sense

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Center for American Progress, September 16, 2010

From the summary:
Children who grow up poor in America end up worse off as adults than those who do not grow up poor along a variety of dimensions, including poorer health, lower education, and lower earnings.
See also:
Download the executive summary
– Download to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Source: Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, 2010

With the culmination of the presidential race, Spotlight’s focus will include monitoring efforts by the Obama Administration and Congress to fight poverty, while providing a non-partisan platform for innovative ideas, programs and practices at the federal, state and local levels. We will also sponsor policy briefings and forums and feature the latest news and commentary on these issues to ensure that combating poverty is at the top of the national agenda. Finally, Spotlight will maintain its role as the nation’s go-to site for the most up-to-date news, ideas, and action on poverty and opportunity.
See also:
The Poverty Measure: Research

Social Security Keeps 20 Million Americans Out of Poverty: A State-By-State Analysis

Source: Paul N. Van de Water and Arloc Sherman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 11, 2010

Social Security benefits play a vital role in reducing poverty. Without Social Security, according to the latest available Census data (for 2008), 19.8 million more Americans would be poor. Although most of those kept out of poverty by Social Security are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. (See Table 1.) Depending on their design, reductions in Social Security benefits could significantly increase poverty, particularly among the elderly.
Social Security 75th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion Trends
Source: Colette Thayer, AARP, August 2010
Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2010 Trustees Report
Source: Virginia P. Reno and Elizabeth Lamme, National Academy of Social Insurance, Social Security Brief No. 34, August 2010
The 2010 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds
Source: Social Security Administration, 2010

Promising antipoverty strategies for families

Source: Maria Cancian, Daniel R. Meyer, and Deborah Reed, Institute for Research on Poverty University of Wisconsin- Madison, Fast Focus No. 6, August 2010

American families are becoming increasingly diverse, dynamic, and dependent on labor market earnings to avoid poverty and economic distress. Children are less likely to live in families with both parents and more likely to rely on their mother’s earnings to avoid poverty. The recession has highlighted the urgent need for antipoverty programs supporting families, but the authors emphasize that the needs the programs address are longstanding, not only cyclical, and therefore require a sustained response.

In this brief, the authors review changes in family structure, the relationship between family structure and employment, and early evidence on differential impacts of the recession on families, and they explore the implications of these changes for policy. They argue that supporting resident parents’ efforts to balance work and family responsibilities and supporting and enforcing nonresident parents’ contributions to their children will help reduce poverty and economic difficulties.