Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

Dimensions of Progress: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession

October 2, 2012 Comments off

Dimensions of Progress: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession (PDF)

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Few measures of U.S. economic performance receive greater attention and scrutiny than the poverty rate. The official poverty rate in 2010 was more than 2 percentage points higher than the rate in 1970 despite a doubling of real GDP per capita and trillions of dollars spent on antipoverty programs. This paper considers the long run patterns of improved measures of poverty, examining the extent of material deprivation in the United States from the early 1960s to 2010. Our results contradict previous studies that have argued that poverty has shown little improvement over time, or that anti-poverty efforts have been ineffective. We show that trends for consumption based measures of poverty and broader income based measures differ considerably from the official measure. We emphasize consumption based measures because they are theoretically a better measure of well-being and because evidence suggests consumption is better reported than income by families with few resources. A consumption based poverty measure that adjusts for bias in price indices declines by 12.5 percentage points between 1972 and 2010. In addition, the composition of the consumption poor is very different from that of the income poor with the consumption poor being noticeably worse off. Over the past few decades, married parent families with children have fared less well while the aged have done better than income data indicate. Our analyses of potential explanations for these patterns indicate that some policy changes have been effective at reducing poverty, but changes in demographics are less important. Changes in tax policy explain a substantial part of the decline in income poverty particularly for families with children. Other than social security, cash and noncash government transfer programs have only a small impact on changes in poverty. Measurement error in income is likely to explain some of the most noticeable differences between changes in income and consumption poverty, but saving and dissaving do not appear to play a large role for most demographic groups.

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

September 12, 2012 Comments off

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2011, median household income declined, the poverty rate was not statistically different from the previous year and the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

Real median household income in the United States in 2011 was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from the 2010 median and the second consecutive annual drop.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.0 percent, with 46.2 million people in poverty. After three consecutive years of increases, neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the 2010 estimates.

The number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50.0 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011, as did the percentage without coverage – from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011.

Benchmarks for Blight: How much blight does New Orleans have?

August 26, 2012 Comments off

Benchmarks for Blight: How much blight does New Orleans have?
Source: Greater New Orleans Community Data Center

As of March 2012, there are an estimated 35,700 blighted homes and empty lots in New Orleans, down from 43,755 in September 2010, as indicated by United States Postal Service (USPS) data. The continued reduction in blight since 2010 is attributable to a strong economy and ongoing population growth complemented by the focused efforts of city agencies to bring properties into compliance. However, the City will need to begin coordinating citywide data collection efforts to track blight going forward, as USPS data will provide less reliable indicators over time.

New From the GAO

August 25, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Home Energy Assistance for Low-Income Occupants of Manufactured Homes. GAO-12-848R, August 24.

2. Veterans Health Care: Veterans Health Administration Processes for Responding to Reported Adverse Events. GAO-12-827R, August 24.

3. Review of FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative as Mandated in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. GAO-12-996R, August 24.

Can the Poor Accumulate Assets?

August 21, 2012 Comments off

Can the Poor Accumulate Assets?
Source: Urban Institute

Can the poor accumulate assets? Longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and programs targeted at helping families accumulate assets provide empirical evidence that they can. Following families over a 13-year period reveals that, even among those poor more than half the time, over 40 percent increased their net worth. And following low-income, asset-poor families over time revealed that 12 years later 44 percent saved enough to escape asset poverty. This shows that across the life course a substantial proportion of poor and low-income families do manage to accumulate assets.

Weathering the Recession: The Financial Crisis and Family Wealth Changes in Low-Income Neighborhoods

August 13, 2012 Comments off

Weathering the Recession: The Financial Crisis and Family Wealth Changes in Low-Income Neighborhoods
Source: Urban Institute

This report looks closely at what happened to assets, debts and home equity for families living in low-income neighborhoods during the Great Recession, using data from the longitudinal Making Connections Survey. We find that both average savings and debt amounts increased between 2005/06 and 2008/09, but asset and debt levels remained lower for vulnerable families, and low-income families disproportionally lost equity during the crisis. Yet even in 2008/09, home equity was substantial and an important component of wealth ($66,000, more than four times as much as families had in savings) for the nearly half of families who were homeowners.

New Report Shows Progress in Child Education and Health Despite Economic Declines

July 27, 2012 Comments off

New Report Shows Progress in Child Education and Health Despite Economic Declines (PDF)

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT ® Data Book shows both promising progress and discouraging setbacks for the nation’s children: While their academic achievement and health improved in most states, their economic well-being continued to decline.

Over the period of roughly 2005 to 2011, the improvements in children’s health and education include a 20 percent decrease in the number of kids without health insurance; a 16 percent drop in the child and teen death rate; an 11 percent reduction in the rate of high school students not graduating in four years; and an 8 percent reduction in the proportion of eighth-graders scoring less than proficient in math.

The 2012 Data Book indicates kids and families nationwide are still struggling economically in the wake of the recession. In 2010, one-third of youths had parents without secure employment — an increase of 22 percent, or about 4 million children, in just two years. From 2005 to 2010, the number of children living in poverty rose by 2.4 million.

+ 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book

The Impacts of Credit on Village Economies

July 19, 2012 Comments off

The Impacts of Credit on Village Economies

Source:  Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty
This paper evaluates the short-term impact of Thailand’s Million Baht Village Fund program, among the largest scale government microfinance initiative in the world, using pre- and postprogram panel data and quasi-experimental cross-village variation in credit-per-household. We find that the village funds have increased total short-term credit, consumption, agricultural investment, income growth (from business and labor), but decreased overall asset growth. We also find a positive impact on wages, an important general equilibrium effect. The findings are broadly consistent qualitatively with models of credit-constrained household behavior and models of intermediation and growth.

See: Notre Dame, MIT economists demonstrate wage impacts of large microfinance program (EurekAlert!)

Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Participation in Government Programs, 2004 to 2007 and 2009 — Who Gets Assistance?

July 16, 2012 Comments off

Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Participation in Government Programs, 2004 to 2007 and 2009 — Who Gets Assistance?
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Almost 45 million people, or 18.6 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population, participated in one or more major means-tested assistance programs each month in 2009. These statistics come from a new report that examines the participation and characteristics of people who received benefits from any of the major means-tested assistance programs including: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Food Stamp, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and Housing Assistance. The statistics come from the 2004 and 2008 Panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation and cover calendar years 2004 through 2007 and 2009. Internet address: <>

More relatively-poor people in a less absolutely-poor world

July 5, 2012 Comments off

More relatively-poor people in a less absolutely-poor world
Source: World Bank

Relative deprivation, shame and social exclusion can matter to the welfare of people everywhere. The authors argue that such social effects on welfare call for a reconsideration of how we assess global poverty, but they do not support standard measures of relative poverty. The paper argues instead for using a weakly-relative measure as the upper-bound complement to the lower-bound provided by a standard absolute measure. New estimates of global poverty are presented, drawing on 850 household surveys spanning 125 countries over 1981-2008. The absolute line is $1.25 a day at 2005 prices, while the relative line rises with the mean, at a gradient of 1:2 above $1.25 a day. The authors show that these parameter choices are consistent with cross-country data on national poverty lines. The results indicate that the incidence of both absolute and weakly-relative poverty in the developing world has been falling since the 1990s, but more slowly for the relative measure. While the number of absolutely poor has fallen, the number of relatively poor has changed little since the 1990s, and is higher in 2008 than 1981.

New From the GAO

June 20, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1. Charter Schools: Additional Federal Attention Needed to Help Protect Access for Students with Disabilities. GAO-12-543, June 7.
Highlights -

2. Federal Real Property: National Strategy and Better Data Needed to Improve Management of Excess and Underutilized Property. GAO-12-645, June 20.
Highlights -

3. Intelligence Community Personnel: Strategic Approach and Training Requirements Needed to Guide Joint Duty Program. GAO-12-679, June 20.
Highlights -

4. Nanotechnology: Improved Performance Information Needed for Environmental, Health, and Safety Research. GAO-12-427, May 21.
Highlights -

5. Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Federal Coordination Efforts Could Be Further Strengthened. GAO-12-647, June 20.
Highlights -

+ Testimony

1. Commercial Space Transportation: Industry Trends, Government Challenges, and International Competitiveness Issues, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Science and Space, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. GAO-12-836T, June 20.
Highlights -

Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession

June 6, 2012 Comments off

Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession (PDF)
Source: John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development (Rutgers University)

A new national survey from the Heldrich Center of recent high school graduates from 2006 to 2011 finds:

  • Only 27% have full-time jobs;
  • Nearly one in three are unemployed and another 15% are employed part time but looking for full-time jobs;
  • The annual earnings of those working full time are barely sufficient to keep them out of poverty;
  • Ninety percent are paid hourly; the current median wage for those employed full time is only $9.25 — just $2.00 above the federal minimum wage; and
  • Seven in ten say that their current job is temporary.

Fewer than 1 in 10 say that their high school education prepared them “extremely well” to get their first job or to be successful at it. Seven in ten believe they will need more education in order to have a successful career, but recent high school graduates are finding it difficult to achieve their goals. They report that economic issues bar them from additional education. Most who were unable to attend college or who dropped out either say they could not afford it or they had to work to support themselves and their family.

New From the GAO

June 5, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Testimony

Source: Government Accountability Office

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Update on Program Performance, by Kay E. Brown, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Senate Finance Committee. GAO-12-812T, June 5.

Effective Development Assistance: Now is the Time

May 20, 2012 Comments off

Effective Development Assistance: Now is the Time (PDF)
Source:  Bread for the World Institute

Bread for the World and other organizations working to end global hunger frequently talk about development assistance and how it can help hungry people overseas. But what exactly is development assistance? And why should we support funding for it when many Americans are facing hard times?

Senior Hunger Report Card™ from Meals On Wheels Research Foundation Finds America Failing Nation’s Seniors

May 18, 2012 Comments off
The Meals On Wheels Research Foundation (MOWRF) today issued the first annual Senior Hunger Report Card™ (Report Card), which evaluates the nation’s performance in reducing food insecurity and eradicating hunger. The Senior Hunger Report Card™ examined America’s progress in eight categories and assigned grades including the following:
  • A grade of “F” for Overall Performance: 8.3 million seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2010. This reflects a 78% increase since 2001 – and a 34% increase since the start of the recession in 2007.
  • A grade of “F” for Economics: Since 2009 and the end of the recession, the risk of hunger for the overall US population has declined. However, during the same time period food insecurity increased among those age 60 and older – primarily among the near-poor, with income one to two times the poverty level.
  • A grade of “F” for Women’s Studies: The effects of food insecurity are disproportionately borne by women, who make up over 60% of seniors facing the threat of hunger. Senior women are more likely to face the threat of hunger than their male counterparts – and the gender gap has widened since 2009.
  • A grade of “F” in Ethics: In the richest nation on Earth, more than 1 in 7 seniors is threatened by hunger. This increase from 1 in 9 seniors in 2005 foretells an alarming human cost if this national crisis is not reversed.
  • Other grades include: a “D-” for Geography, a “D+” for Multicultural Studies, a “C-” for Home Economic and an Incomplete for Health & Physical Education.

Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes: The Importance of Emotional Support for Mothers

May 13, 2012 Comments off

Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes: The Importance of Emotional Support for Mothers (PDF)
Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation (Child Trends)

Raising children is a challenge for parents from all walks of life. However, parents who experience social and economic disadvantages face particular challenges in trying to meet the needs of their children. Some of these parents have support in rearing their children, but many do not. This Research Brief takes a close look at the link between the emotional support that mothers receive—or do not receive—in raising their children and their children’s development.

To address this question, Child Trends analyzed available data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health. Our analyses found that emotional support matters, even when family structure, income, gender, race/ ethnicity, and child age are taken into account. Overall, we found that children and adolescents from disadvantaged families were less likely to engage in externalizing (acting out behavior) and display depression symptoms (sadness, feelings of worthlessness or withdrawn behavior), or to have been retained in a previous grade, when their mothers reported having emotional support with childrearing. These children and adolescents were also more likely to display social competence and school engagement than were their counterparts whose mothers did not report having emotional support. Similar patterns were found among children in more socially and economically advantaged families.

Results from our study suggest that emotional support for mothers may serve to protect children in both disadvantaged and advantaged families from negative outcomes.

The American Welfare State: How We Spend Nearly $1 Trillion a Year Fighting Poverty–And Fail

May 7, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Cato Institute
On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered a State of the Union address to Congress in which he declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” At the time, the poverty rate in America was around 19 percent and falling rapidly. This year, it is reported that the poverty rate is expected to be roughly 15.1 percent and climbing. Between then and now, the federal government spent roughly $12 trillion fighting poverty, and state and local governments added another $3 trillion. Yet the poverty rate never fell below 10.5 percent and is now at the highest level in nearly a decade. Clearly, we have been doing something wrong.
When most Americans think of welfare, they think of the cash benefit program known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). But in reality TANF is only a tiny portion of a vast array of federal government social welfare programs designed to fight poverty. In fact, if one considers those programs that are means-tested (and therefore obviously targeted to low-income Americans) and programs whose legislative language specifically classifies them as anti-poverty programs, there are currently 126 separate federal government programs designed to fight poverty.

Full Paper (PDF)

Measuring financial inclusion : the Global Findex Database

May 7, 2012 Comments off

Measuring financial inclusion : the Global Findex Database

Source:  World Bank
This paper provides the first analysis of the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) Database, a new set of indicators that measure how adults in 148 economies save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. The data show that 50 percent of adults worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution, though account penetration varies widely across regions, income groups and individual characteristics. In addition, 22 percent of adults report having saved at a formal financial institution in the past 12 months, and 9 percent report having taken out a new loan from a bank, credit union or microfinance institution in the past year. Although half of adults around the world remain unbanked, at least 35 percent of them report barriers to account use that might be addressed by public policy. Among the most commonly reported barriers are high cost, physical distance, and lack of proper documentation, though there are significant differences across regions and individual characteristics.
+ Full Paper (PDF)

Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty

May 2, 2012 Comments off

Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty

Source: World Health Organization
Each year infectious diseases kill 3.5 million people – mostly the poor and young children who live in low and middle income countries. Research can change this and bring health to many more people. TDR has brought people and institutions together to identify and advocate for the research priorities that will bring new and innovative approaches and products.

The result is Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty , which provides a new cross-disciplinary approach and analysis. It is essential reading for policy-makers, funders and research leaders.

More Americans Entering Poverty as They Age

April 30, 2012 Comments off

More Americans Entering Poverty as They Age (PDF)
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

Between 2005–2009, the rate of poverty among American seniors rose as they aged, as did the number of new entrants into poverty, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

The EBRI report found that poverty rates fell in the first half of the last decade for almost all age groups of older Americans (age 50 or older), though they increased since 2005 for every age group.

Poverty rates, as defined by U.S. Census poverty thresholds, were highest for the oldest of the elderly. Almost 15 percent of those older than age 85 were in poverty in 2009, compared with approximately 10.5 percent of those older than 65, EBRI found. Additionally, in 2009, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty.

Several factors account for the growing rate of poverty among the elderly, according to Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the report. “As people age, personal savings and pension account balances are depleted, and as people age, their medical expenditures tend to increase,” Banerjee said.

“Also, the rising poverty rates noted correspond to the two economic recessions that occurred during the last decade.”

+ Full Report (PDF)


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