Poverty In America.


Poverty has been going on for centuries. From the middle ages and the 16th century until today era. It has changed from those considered being in poverty to be disable beggers in the 16th century to working families with low income of today’s day and age. America looks at poverty in different ways. Some examples of poverty when it is discussed may include pictures of a blind man standing on a corner, a panhandler asking for money, or a homeless person living in a box. However, poverty hits all ages, races, genders, and family status. A family that has a working parent may be considered living in poverty depending on how much money they are making in a month, and the number of people in the household.

In 1963-1964 Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration, developed the poverty threshold. This threshold was first measured using an economic food plan. It was said that families spent over 1/3 of after tax money on food, then they were considered living in poverty. Farm or non-farm status also determined the thresholds. In 1963 Orshnasky presented the threshold as income inadequacy, but no changes was made until 1981. It was then when the family size was raised and whether the family was had a female or male head of household. This one change caused the poverty numbers to be lowered from 124 to 48.


Levels of Poverty

*How many people are Poor:
In 2005 there were 15 million people in severe poverty which is more than 3 major cities combined. In 2006, there were 36.5 million people in poverty overall. This was also a 32 year high in the U.S. In 2009, there was a reported 43.6 million people that were poor in the U.S overall. That is 14.3 percent of the population. This number is the largest in 51 years since the poverty number was made. The gap as rich in poor has grown dramatically and is continuing to grow.

2005-2006 Poverty Data.
1. Income
1/8 of Americans are making under 20,614 which is below the Federal Poverty Line
43% of Americans live in Severe Poverty
Individuals: $5,083
Family of Four: $9,903
2. Age
Children: 1/3
Over 65: 3.4 million Americans

Different groups of Poverty 2008-2009
Blacks: Over 25%
Hispanics: Over 25%
Whites: 9.4%
2. Age
Children under 18: 20.7%
Over 65: 8.9%
3. Families
Average Family: 11.1%
Female Headed Families: 29.9
Married Couples: 5.8%
4. Region
Living in the South: 15.7%
Northeast: 12.2%
Midwest: 13.3%
West: 14.8%

Children In Poverty

Studies show that children in poverty between the ages of 9 and 10 and children from wealthy homes difference is almost equivalent to the damage of a stroke. These children have trouble paying attention in school and learning basic skills. Research shows that waves of malnutrition, stress, illiteracy and toxic environments all play a role in some childrens lives. These children also have trouble with language development, paying attention in school and planning their futures.
Because of poverty it is stated that children are suffering from malnutrition. Among poor children, 2.4% experienced hunger at some point in the year 2002. One theory that is believed is that lack of money forced poor people to eat low quality diets that were lacking nutrients and high in fat. Research shows that nutrient density doesn’t vary based on income rate.

Over consumption of calories is a problem among the poor because whenever they can afford food they eat as much of it as they can. However this is also a problem among the general U.S. population. On average, poor children have no evidence of widespread significant under nutrition and they seem to be very well nourished. The problems of "thinness" and "stuntedness" are both indicators of malnutrition and both factors are rare to non existent among poor American children.

Veterans In Poverty

Veterans in Poverty are often considered hard to employ (graham). Many veterans suffer from psychological problems, which can explain why they might be considered this way. 75,000 veterans have been found living on the streets or in homeless shelters. A large of amount of the new veterans (about 18 of 30) has living on the streets or in homeless shelters since 2009. A majority of these homeless people are actually women.

Some do not believe that Veterans are in as much trouble as they claim. In “The Veteran Poverty Myth” writer Robert Gebeloff does not see Veteran poverty as real. He assures readers that “The truth is actually quite the opposite. As a group, military veterans have historically fared much better economically than the civilian population.” However, as of 2009 that is not the case as many stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have become homeless. 136,334 Veteran’s have reported being homeless at least once. Many of the veterans are of the Latino and African American decent. Obama has been trying to fix the poverty problems in the United States. He plans to implement changes that should take effect by 2015. Oddly, may of these homeless Veterans have been reported in Florida, California, New York and Texas. In many places, there have been organizations working to create housing for these displaced Veterans.



Possible solutions to poverty include increasing minimum wage, Income-support, stronger unions, health care reforms, work and pay for everyone, and a unification of the people. These government programs help the poor, “in 1996, the study found, 57.5 million people-21.6 percent of the U.S. population-had incomes below the poverty line before receipt of government benefits. After government benefits are taken into account, the number remaining in poverty was reduced to 30.5 million people, or 11.5 percent of the population” (Balkin 16). Although ending poverty may not be easy, these possible solutions are believed by many, including websites and organizations that are made to help stop poverty, they believe: “It's not hard to identify a set of policies that would help the poor and millions of other Americans. These include an increased minimum wage, more income-support measures such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a renewed focus on unionization, a framework of lifelong learning, health-care reform, child-care assistance for all who need it, comprehensive immigration reform, initiatives to help underemployed groups get in or back into the workforce, and strategies to promote asset building, among others”(prospect). There are also many forms of support that people and families that live in poverty receive, including: food/clothes/toy drives, homeless shelters, food stamps, Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which help working families.


Abel, David. “A Haven for Homelessness” The Boston Globe. The NY Times Co. 8 November 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Balkin, Karen. Poverty: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 2004. 16. Print. This source is an extremely helpful source on information for poverty. It gives information on the issue of poverty and the opposing viewpoints they have on the issue. Using this as a source is good for an argument or counter argument. The book also informs the readers why poverty is such a controversial debate, the causes, and solutions.

Billitteri, Thomas J. "Domestic Poverty" Plus Archive (September 7, 2007) 17:1 CQ Researcher Web. 2 Mar. 2011.

Contrada, Joan Axelrod. Poverty in America: Cause or Effect? Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 2010. Print.

Dahlhauser, Hart. “Placing Displaced Veterans: Recovery through a rite of passage” Waren Wilson College Sociology. (2007): 1-20 Web. 28 Feb. 2011

Gebeloff, Robert. “The Veteran Poverty Myth” New Jersey. New Jersey On-Line LLC. 8 November 2007. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Greenburg, Mark. “Making Poverty History” The American Prospect. The American Prospect Inc., 22 April 2007. Web. 28 February 2011.

Rector, Robert. “How Poor are America’s Poor? Examining the “Plague” of Poverty in America” The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation, 27 August 2007. Web. 29 February 2011.

Welch, William M. “Veterans more likely to be Homeless, Study Says. USA Today. Gannet Co. Inc. 10 February 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

“Who Is Poor” www.irp.wisc.edu N.p. 26 October. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.