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General Research on Income and Poverty
General Research on Income and Poverty
According to the US Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2012 was 15.0– down slightly from 15.1 percent in 2010. After an increase of 2.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2010 (from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent), the poverty rate has stagnated, decreasing only 0.1 percentage point between 2010 and 2012. The official poverty threshold is based on the costs of food for different types of families. Other measures of poverty are based on different thresholds of need, definitions of income, or regional adjustments and may show different trends.
The number of people in poverty in 2012 (46.5 million) is the largest number in the 54 years for which poverty estimates have been published. Numerous studies have examined the effects of programs and policies on poverty and other economic self-sufficiency outcomes, such as income, earnings, and employment. The General Research on Income and Poverty section explores theories, trends, measures, and predictors and outcomes as they relate to income and poverty for low-income individuals and families.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on General Research on Income and Poverty and relevant Federal laws and regulations below.
Poverty measures establish the income level used to determine whether a family/individual lives in poverty. Poverty measures also provide a framework for understanding the number and demographics of people living in poverty. Alternative measures have been developed at the federal, state, and local levels to supplement the official poverty measure, which the U.S. Census Bureau reports annually. Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers are using the official poverty measure, supplemental poverty measure (also reported annually by the U.S. Census Bureau), and other measures to capture poverty and income trends and data. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources on poverty measures.
This report presents findings from a needs assessment conducted by the Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center. As an initial activity, the Data Center obtained input from key stakeholders regarding their current capacity, challenges, and needs with family self-sufficiency data. The team conducted interviews and focus groups to learn about how stakeholders currently use data and research to inform family self- sufficiency programs and what assistance stakeholders need with respect to data and research. (edited author abstract)
This framework outlines the roles of various types of research and evaluation in generating information and answering empirical questions related to the human services provided by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Within the framework, you will find descriptions of each type of research and evaluation, including the purpose, the policy and/or practical significance justifications, the empirical and theoretical justifications, and the expectations for study design and expected outcomes. (edited author abstract)
Using a relative poverty standard for disposable household income, the U.S. poverty rate exceeds that reported in all of the other high-income countries in this study, with the sole exception of Israel. The well-known exceptionalism of American relative poverty extends only to rich countries. Most of the middle-income countries in this study report higher relative poverty rates than are seen in the United States. U.S. children are 30 percent more likely to live in relative poverty than is the U.S. population overall. This general pattern is not unusual. In about three-quarters of the rich countries included in this study, children’s poverty risk (vis-à-vis disposable income) is higher than that of all persons. When we consider absolute poverty (using a poverty line based on the official U.S. threshold), American children are more likely to be poor than children in 11 of the 20 study countries. And nine of these 11 countries—all but Luxembourg and Norway—are less affluent than the U.S. (author abstract)
More than half of the nation's poor population now lives in high-poverty or extremely poor neighborhoods, finds a new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The analysis of changes in concentrated poverty reveals worrying trends across large cities, suburbs, small metro areas, and rural communities in the U.S. The report, "U.S. concentrated poverty in the wake of the Great Recession," by Brookings Fellow Elizabeth Kneebone and Brookings Research Analyst Natalie Holmes measures changes in the concentrated poverty rate—the share of poor residents living in extremely poor neighborhoods (i.e., census tracts where 40 percent or more of the population lives below the federal poverty line)—since 2000. It also tracks the growth of high-poverty neighborhoods (i.e., census tracts with poverty rates between 20 and 40 percent). The report reveals a post-recession period that provided little relief to those at the bottom of the economic ladder. By 2014, 14.0 million Americans lived in extremely poor neighborhoods, twice as many as in 2000. Of that number, 6.3 million were poor, bearing the double burden of being poor in a very poor place. Residents of poor neighborhoods face higher crime rates, exhibit worse health outcomes, and attend schools with high dropout rates, among many other challenges that make it harder to escape poverty. (author abstract)
For decades, the official poverty rate has been criticized by economists, policymakers, and activists from both the left and the right. A variety of incremental improvements and wholesale changes have been proposed by both federal and private sector researchers. What these research efforts show, however, is not that one definition of poverty is unequivocally correct, but rather how challenging poverty is to define. (author abstract)
Federal Laws and Regulations serve as the building blocks of policy and practice on General Research on Income and Poverty. The impact of these laws and regulations are a focus of research. Click the first link below to view legislative resources related to income and poverty. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.