Poverty In USA Research Paper Examples

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Poverty, Social Issues, People, Taxes, Family, Income, Measure, Kinship

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/10/01

Introduction: Poverty is usually means an insufficiency in amount. In Economic poverty usually refers to a deprivation in the income. Living pattern and the spending pattern are normally not preferred while studying poverty. This is because; the living pattern and spending pattern need not necessarily be in accordance with a person’s income.
Adam Smith, the noted philosopher and pioneer of political economy was quoted in Iceland’s book ‘Poverty in America’ as saying “not only the commodities which are indispensable necessary for life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without’. (p.11)
Demographics of U.S poverty: According to the 2012 census, there are 46.5 million people in poverty in USA. This is 2.5 points higher than in 2008.
Bureau: Forty six million people in US live in poverty. 13.6% of them are men and 16.3% of them are women. The poverty rate among single parent family is higher than married couples. Metropolitan (14.5%) have lower a lower poverty rate than rural areas (17.7%). The poverty rate among people with disability is 28.4%, making 4.3 million people with disability living in poverty. Twenty two percentages of all children live in poverty (Nccp.org). Over one million children experience homelessness in a year (Nccp.org). The poverty rate among seniors is 9.1%. Poverty rate among different ethnic groups being highest in Blacks (27.2%), followed by Hispanics (25.6%), then Asians (11.7%) and least in Whites (9.7%). The poverty threshold as measured for one individual is $11, 670, for two $15,730 , for three $19,790, four people, $23,850, eight people $40,090. For more details please visit the US Census Bureau webpage. Seven percent of the population lives in worst property. (Bureau)
Measures of poverty: Measuring poverty is a complex task and a number of items are to be taken into account. It is often difficult to decide on the items to be included when measuring. Poverty is not just material deprivation. It is some time deprivation from society as well. The threshold used to measure poverty can change as the standard of living rises. The following are few approaches to measure poverty. (Iceland)
i. Absolute measure: In this approach there is a predetermined threshold or poverty line, above which people are not poor and below which people are poor. This line is developed by experts taking into account a persons physiological needs. For example, Mollie Orshanky constructed a poverty threshold line using “Economy Food Plans”. In this the cost of a nutritious but monotonous diet, with no provision for eating outside is allowed for those who lie in the poverty line. The disadvantage with this kind of measure being, that only one factor is considered to calculate the threshold. It is not flexible with people’s perception of poverty, which tends to change as the standards of living changes. These measures are commonly used by U.S government officials. During times of economic elasticity, the actual poverty line tends to change, as the real income of the people changes. This change is often not accounted for in this method. The U.S poverty line measure suffers other flaws like the unit of measurement is family and using gross cash income to calculate the funds available at the disposal. They also don’t include transportation cost involved to commute to work and the cost of childcare for both working parents. This method also does not consider the regional differences in family expenditure. A family in New York may have a higher expenditure than a family in Mississippi. (Iceland,p.21-23)
ii. Relative measure: is also called the comparative economic poverty measure. In this method poverty is associated to the societies existing economy. Median income of the nation is taken as a threshold and people either 40% or 60% below this are considered to be in poverty. This method is commonly used by researchers and policy makers. It fits the changing view of poverty. Real needs of a person can vary based on the economic state of a state. A car may be a luxury in some countries, but in a place where most families have car and the public transportation is poor, a car is more of a necessity to go to work. Again lack of money drives low income workers to search for less fashioned houses in the outskirts, adding to the transportation problem. Relative measure addresses the social exclusion of people due to lack of money. This method is having its disadvantages as well. Relative measures are based on value judgment and not on scientific objectives. This threshold tends to lower with fall in median income and rise during recession. The concept of acceptable quality of life changes from time to time. Some feel that since this measure has a moving threshold, it is difficult to eliminate poverty based on this threshold. (Iceland, p.23-26)
iii. A quasi relative poverty measure: This was developed by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). It is based on a reference family of two adults and two children. The dollar amount was calculated for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, household supplies, personal care, non work related transportation based on the consumer expenditure survey. NAS supports that notion that poverty measures are relative in nature. Instead of recommending a single dollar value for each item, it uses a range of value. It also uses an equivalence scale to adjust the dollar amount to reflect the needs of different family sizes and types. It also accounts for the geographical variation in housing and transportation cost. The cost of living in metropolitan is higher than in other regions. The family income is measured as cash income and also as non cash benefit from other sources. The quasi relative poverty measure is more refined than other population measures. When absolute measure tends to underestimate poverty, relative method over estimates poverty and quasi relative measure gives values that are intermediate of these two methods. (Iceland, p 27-28)
Conclusion: When we look at the American history, in the 1980’s one in two people were in poverty. This has been dramatically reduced, and in 2012, only 15 percent of the population was in poverty. The country aims to eradicate poverty by 2030. In our country poverty is not just the denial of material, it also include denial to ones basic freedom and dignity. Sometimes poverty forces people to make difficult choices between food, shelter, clothing, education and medical expenditure ‘The State Of Poverty USA/Interactive Map, Poverty Apps & Facts’. USAID is a US government organization which aims to eradicate extreme poverty in the world by 2030 (Usaid.gov). In US, a family of four, earning less than $23,021 per year is listed as living in poverty. The U.S Census Bureau listed 20% of the countries children as poor. One of the most common reasons for poverty is unemployment and underemployment ‘The State Of Poverty USA/Interactive Map, Poverty Apps & Facts’. People, need to be trained in skills, so that they don’t loose their jobs to skilled immigrants. With globalization and cheap labor in other countries, companies are resorting to outsourcing their jobs, which helps them to reduce the production cost and increase profit. Thus our citizen loose job opportunity. Providing jobs with good wages for our citizen can help in eradicating poverty. In many families, both the husband and wife have to work to provide the family a decent middle class life. Subsidized child care, health care, nutrition and earned income tax credit, are initiatives taken by the government to eliminate poverty. Earned income tax credit, helps the families with low income to keep more of their earnings. Child tax credit is another government initiates to benefit people with low income. Various NGO are also contributing at different levels to eradicate poverty. Measuring poverty is necessary to understand the effectiveness of these community and social programs in eradicating poverty. Absolute poverty measure is based on the amount needed to survive. Relative measures estimates deprivation relative to social norms and standards. Quasi relative method is a compromise between the two methods.


1. Bureau, US. 'Income And Poverty In The United States: 2013'. Census.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
2. Iceland, John. Poverty In America. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2003. Print.
3. Nccp.org,. 'NCCP | Home'. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
4.'The State Of Poverty USA | Interactive Map, Poverty Apps & Facts'. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
5. Usaid.gov,. 'U.S. Agency For International Development'. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

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