Slightly more than one American household with children in every 25 is surviving on less than $2 per day of income from all sources. One quarter of that 4.3% (that’s 1% of all Americans with children) receive less than $1.25 per day. One third (that’s about 1.33% of all Americans) receive between $1.25 and $2. Another third of that 4.3% receive enough government benefits to be living on between $1.25 and $2 a day. A tiny 0.1% of that 4.3% are even surviving somehow on “Negative income & benefits.”
On 26 August 2014, the co-authors of a Brookings Institution paper published a chart of those findings (reproduced here below, courtesy of the Brookings Institution) that looks like it might be some painting at the Museum of Modern Art, though what it refers to isn’t nearly so pretty, and is actually quite miserable:
These findings were originally published in the June 2013 Social Science Review, but have not yet been reported in the mainstream press. That study’s co-authors are H. Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan, and Kathryn Endin of Harvard. The study was posted online by its funding organization, the National Poverty Center.
Titled, “Rising Extreme Poverty in the United States and the Response of Federal Means-Tested Transfer Programs,” the researchers reported that there has been “an increase in the prevalence of extreme poverty among U.S. households with children between 1996 and 2011.” Furthermore, “The prevalence of extreme poverty has risen sharply since 1996, particularly among those most impacted by the 1996 welfare reform,” which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and which embodied numerous elements of President Ronald Reagan’s views on poverty. It “replaced a need-based entitlement program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), with a more restrictive federal block grant program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).” The authors explain as follows the $2/day cutoff they’re focusing on:
The measure of “extreme poverty” used here is based on one of the World Bank’s key indicators of global poverty: $2 per person, per day. Tellingly, the World Bank does not release official estimates for the United States for this metric because it is meant to capture poverty based on “the standards of the poorest countries.” … Living below this metric is widely considered to be a marker of extreme destitution, which is assumed to be very uncommon among wealthy nations. …
All just a terrible mistake…. economics is SO very complicated, they just haven’t figured it out yet. But give them a few more years and it won’t matter.