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Household Food Security in the United States in 2013

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Household Food Security in the United States in 2013
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

An estimated 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2013, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The change from 14.5 percent in 2012 was not statistically significant.The prevalence of very low food security was essentially unchanged at 5.6 percent.

See also: Household Food Security in the United States in 2013: Statistical Supplement

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Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2012 Update (August 2014)

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2012 Update (PDF)
Source: Guttmacher Institute
From press release:

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of U.S. women in need of publicly funded family planning services increased by 22%, or 3.5 million women; in 2012, 20 million women were in need of publicly funded services. Women were considered to be “in need” if they were adults with a family income below 250% of the federal poverty level, or teens regardless of family income, and were sexually experienced and did not want to become pregnant. The increased need for publicly funded family planning services was driven primarily by a rise in the number of poor and low-income adult women (<250% of poverty) in need of contraceptive services and supplies.

The Responsiveness of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program During the Great Recession

September 3, 2014 Comments off

The Responsiveness of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program During the Great Recession
Source: Brookings Institution

The question addressed by this report is how the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program responded to increased unemployment during the Great Recession. Enacted in 1996, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, changing the culture of cash welfare by imposing strong work requirements backed by sanctions and a five-year time limit on benefit receipt. In response, the rolls declined in record numbers, both because people left the rolls, most of them for work, and because fewer people entered welfare. Between 1995 and 2000, welfare rolls declined by more than 55 percent nationwide, while poverty among children in single parent families and among black children, both of which groups were disproportionately represented on the TANF rolls, fell to their lowest levels ever.

However, during the Great Recession that officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, as unemployment skyrocketed, TANF performance as part of the safety net was held by many advocates, policymakers, and researchers to be inadequate. This report analyzes this claim from a variety of perspectives. In the three studies report here, we examine changes in the TANF rolls in relation to two alternative measures of rising unemployment in each state and in relation to how the AFDC program responded during previous recessions. We show that the increase in the TANF rolls was greater—12 and 30 percent greater under two different methods— when examined during the unique period of rising employment in each state. We also show that TANF increased more in the recession of 2001 and the Great Recession of 2007- 2009 than AFDC did during previous recessions. We also show, as have a number of other researchers, that the nation’s safety net as a whole performed well during the Great Recession and prevented millions of people from falling into poverty.

How Poor Are America’s Poorest? U.S. $2 A Day Poverty In A Global Context

August 28, 2014 Comments off

How Poor Are America’s Poorest? U.S. $2 A Day Poverty In A Global Context
Source: Brookings Institution

In the United States, the official poverty rate for 2012 stood at 15 percent based on the national poverty line which is equivalent to around $16 per person per day. Of the 46.5 million Americans living in poverty, 20.4 million live under half the poverty line. This begs the question of just how poor America’s poorest people are.

Poverty, in one form or other, exists in every country. But the most acute, absolute manifestations of poverty are assumed to be limited to the developing world. This is reflected in the fact that rich countries tend to set higher poverty lines than poor countries, and that global poverty estimates have traditionally excluded industrialized countries and their populations altogether.

An important study on U.S. poverty by Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin gently challenges this assumption. Using an alternative dataset from the one employed for the official U.S. poverty measure, Shaefer and Edin show that millions of Americans live on less than $2 a day—a threshold commonly used to measure poverty in the developing world. Depending on the exact definitions used, they find that up to 5 percent of American households with children are shown to fall under this parsimonious poverty line.

These numbers are intended to shock—and they succeed. The United States is known for having higher inequality and a less generous social safety net than many affluent countries in Europe, but the acute deprivations that flow from this are less understood. A crude comparison of Shaefer and Edin’s estimates with the World Bank’s official $2 a day poverty estimates for developing economies would place the United States level with or behind a large set of countries, including Russia (0.1 percent), the West Bank and Gaza (0.3 percent), Jordan (1.6 percent), Albania (1.7 percent), urban Argentina (1.9 percent), urban China (3.5 percent), and Thailand (4.1 percent). Many of these countries are recipients of American foreign aid. However, methodologies for measuring poverty differ wildly both within and across countries, so such comparisons and their interpretation demand extreme care.

Understanding Changes in Poverty

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Understanding Changes in Poverty
Source: World Bank

Understanding Changes in Poverty brings together different methods to decompose the contributions to poverty reduction. A simple approach quantifies the contribution of changes in demographics, employment, earnings, public transfers, and remittances to poverty reduction. A more complex approach quantifies the contributions to poverty reduction from changes in individual and household characteristics, including changes in the sectoral, occupational, and educational structure of the workforce, as well as changes in the returns to individual and household characteristics. Understanding Changes in Poverty implements these approaches and finds that labor income growth that is, growth in income per worker rather than an increase in the number of employed workers was the largest contributor to moderate poverty reduction in 21 countries experiencing substantial reductions in poverty over the past decade. Changes in demographics, public transfers, and remittances helped, but made relatively smaller contributions to poverty reduction. Further decompositions in three countries find that labor income grew mainly because of higher returns to human capital endowments, signaling increases in productivity, higher relative price of labor, or both. Understanding Changes in Poverty will be of particular relevance to development practitioners interested in better understanding distributional changes over time. The methods and tools presented in this book can also be applied to better understand changes in inequality or any other distributional change.

Neighborhood Change, 1970 to 2010: Transition and Growth in Urban High Poverty Neighborhoods

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Neighborhood Change, 1970 to 2010: Transition and Growth in Urban High Poverty Neighborhoods (PDF)
Source: Impresa Consulting

This paper analyzes changes in high poverty urban neighborhoods in the nation’s large metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010. Using census tract data to track neighborhood performance, and defining high poverty as neighborhoods with a poverty rate of greater than 30 percent, this paper finds:

About 1,100 census tracts in urban neighborhoods in the nation’s large metropolitan areas had poverty rates in excess of 30 percent in 1970. These tracts had a population of 5 million, of which nearly 2 million were poor.

High poverty was persistent in these neighborhoods. Four decades later, 750 of these tracts—home to about three-quarters of the 1970 high poverty neighborhood population—still had rates of poverty in excess of 30 percent.

Though poverty persisted, these high poverty neighborhoods were not stable— in the aggregate they lost population, with chronic high poverty neighborhoods losing 40 percent of their population by 2010.

Welfare Rules Databook: State TANF Policies as of July 2013

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Welfare Rules Databook: State TANF Policies as of July 2013
Source: Urban Institute

The Welfare Rules Databook provides tables containing key Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies for each state as of July 2013, as well as longitudinal tables describing selected state policies from 1996 through 2013. The tables are based on the information in the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a publicly available, online database tracking state cash assistance policies over time and across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Databook summarizes a subset of the information in the WRD. Users interested in a greater level of detail are encouraged to use the full database, available at http://anfdata.urban.org/wrd.

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