Poverty in America: Why the poverty rate is so high and what factors influence it

1. Introduction

The United States of America is one of the richest and most developed countries in the world. Not only it is the leading economic and military power, but also it is a country of great social welfare. Despite all these advantages, there are still many problems in the USA, such as racism, homophobia, and, of course, poverty.

Poverty is a big issue in the United States. American political scientist Frances Fox Piven says that “the United States is unique among developed nations in the extent to which poverty is concentrated among families with children”. As shown by the American Census Bureau, over 35.9 million persons are poor in the U.S. IN 2009; poor people were over 3.8 million more than in 2008. In this essay, we will try to find out why poverty rate is so high in America and what factors influence it. We will also discuss different ways of measuring poverty and compare poverty rates in different States.

2. Poverty rates in the USA

There are two main official ways of measuring poverty in the United States: by using poverty thresholds or by calculating family poverty ratios.

Poverty thresholds are published every year by the U.S. Census Bureau for different family sizes and compositions. The poverty thresholds do not vary geographically; they are intended to provide for a basic standard of living anywhere in the country. For example, in 2009, the poverty threshold for a single person was $11,161; for a couple it was $14,618; and for a family of four with two children it was $21,756. If a person’s income is below his/her corresponding poverty threshold, then he/she is considered as being in poverty.

Family poverty ratios are another way of measuring poverty which takes into account family size and composition. The family poverty ratio equals the number of people in a given family who are considered to be in poverty divided by the total number of people in that family. For example, if we have a family of four with two children and only one parent working, then the family poverty ratio would be 50%.

The most recent data on poverty rates in America has been published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010. According to this data, there were 46.2 million people living below the poverty line in 2010 which is equal to 15% of the population (or one out of seven people). It means that 2011 Poverty rate is higher than it was in 2009 when there were 43.6 million poor people (14.3% of population). The highest jump in Poverty rates happened between 2008 and 2009 – during The Great Recession. However, even before that, from 2000 to 2007, Poverty rates were growing slowly but steadily.

There are some variations of Poverty rates among different groups of people living in America:
– Children under 18 years old are more likely to live below the Poverty line than any other group – 22% (or 16.1 million) of them were living below Poverty thresholds in 2010;
– Elderly people aged 65 years or older have much lower Poverty rates – only 9% (or 4 million) were considered as being poor according to 2010 Census data;
– Women are more likely to be in Poverty than men – in 2010, Poverty rates for women and men were 16.3% and 13.7% respectively.

There are also some geographical variations of poverty rates across America. The States with the highest Poverty rates are Mississippi (22%), New Mexico (21%), Louisiana (21%), Arkansas (20%), Kentucky (19%), Arizona (19%), Georgia (18%), Alabama (18%) and South Carolina (17%). The States with the lowest Poverty rates are New Hampshire (9%), Alaska (11%), Minnesota (11%), Connecticut (11%), Nebraska (11%), Maryland (11%), Virginia (11%), North Dakota (11%) and Wyoming (11%).

3. American family in poverty

As we have already mentioned, poverty has been growing in America for the last few decades. In addition to that, American families are getting poorer as well. In 1970, median family income was $51,683 in 2010 dollars; by 2010 it has decreased to $50,221. At the same time, the number of families living below the Poverty line has increased from 8.1% in 1970 to 11. % in 2010.

There are several reasons why American families are getting poorer:
– Firstly, real wages have been stagnating for the last few decades;
– Secondly, the number of families headed by a single parent has been increasing;
– Thirdly, more and more families have been relying on two incomes instead of one.

4. Poverty thresholds

As we have already mentioned, poverty thresholds are published every year by the U.S. Census Bureau for different family sizes and compositions. The poverty thresholds do not vary geographically; they are intended to provide for a basic standard of living anywhere in the country. For example, in 2009, the poverty threshold for a single person was $11,161; for a couple it was $14,618; and for a family of four with two children it was $21,756. If a person’s income is below his/her corresponding poverty threshold, then he/she is considered as being in poverty.

5. Family poverty ratios

Family poverty ratios are another way of measuring poverty which takes into account family size and composition. The family poverty ratio equals the number of people in a given family who are considered to be in poverty divided by the total number of people in that family. For example, if we have a family of four with two children and only one parent working, then the family poverty ratio would be 50%.
The most recent data on poverty rates in America has been published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010. According to this data, there were 46.2 million people living below the poverty line in 2010 which is equal to 15% of the population (or one out of seven people). It means that 2011 Poverty rate is higher than it was in 2009 when there were 43.6 million poor people (14.3% of population). The highest jump in Poverty rates happened between 2008 and 2009 – during The Great Recession. However, even before that, from 2000 to 2007, Poverty rates were growing slowly but steadily.

There are some variations of Poverty rates among different groups of people living in America:
– Children under 18 years old are more likely to live below the Poverty line than any other group – 22% (or 16.1 million) of them were living below Poverty thresholds in 2010;
– Elderly people aged 65 years or older have much lower Poverty rates – only 9% (or 4 million) were considered as being poor according to 2010 Census data;
– Women are more likely to be in Poverty than men – in 2010, Poverty rates for women and men were 16.3% and 13.7% respectively.

There are also some geographical variations of poverty rates across America. The States with the highest Poverty rates are Mississippi (22%), New Mexico (21%), Louisiana (21%), Arkansas (20%), Kentucky (19%), Arizona (19%), Georgia (18%), Alabama (18%) and South Carolina (17%). The States with the lowest Poverty rates are New Hampshire (9%), Alaska (11%), Minnesota (11%), Connecticut (11%), Nebraska (11%), Maryland (11%), Virginia (11%), North Dakota (11%) and Wyoming (11%).

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted that poverty is a big issue in the United States. American families are getting poorer and the number of people living below the poverty line is increasing. There are many reasons for that, such as real wages stagnating, the number of families headed by a single parent increasing, and more and more families relying on two incomes instead of one. The most recent data on poverty rates in America has been published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010. According to this data, there were 46.2 million people living below the poverty line in 2010 which is equal to 15% of the population (or one out of seven people). It means that 2011 Poverty rate is higher than it was in 2009 when there were 43.6 million poor people (14.3% of population). The highest jump in Poverty rates happened between 2008 and 2009 – during The Great Recession. However, even before that, from 2000 to 2007, Poverty rates were growing slowly but steadily.

FAQ

The current poverty rate in the USA is 13.4%.

These poverty rates have changed over time, but they have remained relatively stable for the past few years.

There is such a large variation in poverty rates across different states in the USA because of the different economic conditions in each state.

There are certain groups of people who are more likely to live in poverty in the USA, such as minorities and single mothers.

Living in poverty has a number of negative effects on people's lives, including poor health, lack of education, and limited job opportunities.

The US government has put into place a number of policies and programs to try and reduce poverty levels, such as food stamps and welfare programs.

Some other factors that contribute to high levels of poverty in the USA include low wages, high levels of inequality, and discrimination