American poverty in a Chemung County perspective

Report
Randi Lynn Quackenbush
Cornell Cooperative Extension
AmeriCorps VISTA
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Webster’s: the state of one who lacks a usual
or socially acceptable amount of money or
material possessions
World Bank: extreme poverty (>$1 PPP/day)
moderate poverty (>$2 PPP/day)
UN: 2 categories- income poverty and human
poverty
“It means not having enough to feed and cloth a
family, not having the land on which to grow
one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not
having access to credit.
Poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities,
a violation of human dignity. It means lack of
basic capacity to participate effectively in
society.
It means insecurity, powerlessness and
exclusion of individuals, households and
communities. It means susceptibility to
violence, and it often implies living on marginal
or fragile environments, without access to clean
water or sanitation.” (UN Statement, 1998)
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Financial
Spiritual
Emotional
Mental
Physical
Support Systems
Relationships/Role Models
Knowledge of hidden rules
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Stemming from “The Other America” (1964), this
theory contends that the poor have their own
value systems
Has since been rejected by many social scientists
who believe this theory “blames the victim,”
focuses too much on a seemingly lack of morals
ie-there is something wrong with them, and
ignores structural and economic inequities
Belief in this culture helped propel 1996 welfare
reform
Still is strong in popular culture
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Absolute, or extreme poverty, is when
people lack the basic necessities for survival,
such as food, clean water, housing, sufficient
clothing or medicines, and access to social
services.
Relative poverty is when the cost of
maintaining an average, acceptable standard
of living, relative to other members of
society, exceeds available income. Basic
needs may be met, but fewer resources,
opportunities, and goods are available.
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Poverty in the US is based on the notion of income poverty.
The federal government sets a poverty threshold for
individuals and those with dependent children.
The formula for calculating the poverty threshold in the
United States was developed in 1963 and was based on
the USDA’s economic food plan times three (the average
family spent 1/3 of their income on food).
It is not designed to be an itemized budget and does not
take into consideration housing and childcare costs, for
example.
It is the same across all the lower 48 states. Different
guidelines exist for Alaska and Hawaii.
(In the international context, it equals about $30/day)
The 2011 American Community Survey
estimates that 15.9% of Americans live below
the poverty line (BPL)
= 48.5 million people
 White – 13% (21.1 million)
 Black -28.1% (10.5 million)
 Asian- 12.8% (1.9 million)
 Hispanic – 25.8% (13.1 million)
 Two or more races – 21.4% (1.8 million)
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22.5% of all children are BPL (16.4 million)
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A parent working full-time at minimum wage
($7.25 per hour) earns, before taxes, $15,080
annually.
For a single-parent family with one child,
these wages are just below the poverty line.
Thus, it is entirely possible to work full time
and still earn less than the federal poverty
line if you have children.
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Current poverty measures only count gross
pre-tax income, but do not include in-kind
benefits or tax credits; nor medical,
childcare, housing, child support, or taxrelated expenses
These measures are not geographicspecific
Some economists and policy makers have
created the Supplemental Poverty Measure
(SPM)
The SPM takes additional necessities into account and
finds that for renters and mortgage owners, the actual
poverty threshold should be higher.
However, using the
SPM, while average
poverty rates are
higher, child poverty
rates are actually
lower due to
programs such as
SNAP, school lunch
programs, WIC, and
various subsidies and
tax-credits available
for families with
children. These
programs are essential
in keeping children
from falling deeper
into poverty.
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Generational poverty is defined as
experiencing poverty for at least 2
generations.
Situational poverty is defined as experiencing
economic hardship because of a particular
event such as chronic illness, death, divorce,
etc. Often there exists an attitude of pride in
refusing public assistance or charity.
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Dr. Payne states that hidden rules are the
unspoken cues and habits of a group.
Generational poverty: entertainment and
relationships, focused on the present
Generational middle class- work and
achievement, focused on the future
Generational wealth- financial, political, and
social
Source: ‘Wealth Mobility and Volatility in Black and White,’ The Center for American Progress, 2008.
Source: Diana Pearce, 2010.
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Individual
Structural
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“The economic insecurity of low-wage workers
and the middle class threatens the viability of our
communities. When members of the middle
class flee the cities, taking the tax base and
spending power with them . . .when Main Street
empties of viable businesses and refills with
pawn shops, used clothing stores, social service
storefronts, and payday lenders . . .when people
can’t afford to stay in the community to raise
their children because of the lack of well-paying
jobs . . . And when the free and reduced-price
lunch rate at the schools hits 50%, our
communities are becoming unsustainable.”
(Bridges Out of Poverty, p. 5)
“The economic insecurity of low-wage workers and the middle class
threatens the viability of our communities. When members of the
middle class flee the cities, taking the tax base and spending power
with them . . .when Main Street empties of viable businesses and refills
with pawn shops, used clothing stores, social service storefronts, and
payday lenders . . .when people can’t afford to stay in the community
to raise their children because of the lack of well-paying jobs . . . And
when the free and reduced-price lunch rate at the schools hits 50%,
our communities are becoming unsustainable.” (Bridges Out of Poverty,
p. 5)
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By age 4, then, the average welfare child would
have heard 13 million words, the average
working-class child would have heard 23 million
words, and the average professional child would
have heard 45 million words. This produces
what has been called the “30 million word gap.”
COP are far more likely to drop out of school
prior to graduation than other children. The
annual dropout rate for children in families with
incomes less than $20,000 is 9.0%. In contrast,
the annual dropout rate for children in families
with incomes of $40,000 or more is 2.3%.
Source: 2013 Chemung County Budget

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