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Poverty In The Us Essay

1647 words - 7 pages

0. IntroductionNational poverty data are calculated using the official Census definition of poverty, under this definition poverty is determined by comparing pretax cash income with the poverty threshold, which adjusts for family size and composition. The federal government classified a family of four as "poor" if its cash income was less than $18,100; for a family of three, the poverty threshold was $15,020; for a married couple, $11,940; and for an individual, $8,860. . The number of poor families in America increased by more than 6% in 2001, with 6.8 million families - one out of every ten - living below the poverty line in 2001. In 2002, according to the official measure, 12.1 percent of the total U.S. population lived in poverty .There are many problems connected to the measure of poverty that the US Census Bureau uses. The definition was first calculated in the mid 1960s as three times the minimum basket of food a family would need. Since then it has only been adjusted to inflation, and it has not taken into account that the spending pattern of American families have changed quite a lot since the 1960s.This means that these poverty data can easily be compared and used for measuring the progress against poverty. At the same time, it is at times difficult to find out and to decide what kind of benefits are taken into account when the poverty line is drawn. Benefits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are excluded and costs such as child care are excluded. Because of this, the poverty rate could be as high as 20% or as low as 10%, all depending on what is included.1. Evolution of the poverty in the USAAs we can see in Table 1 of the appendix 1, the US poverty's evolution has been very positive during the last 45 years. In 1959 more than 22% of the US population, almost 40 million people, lived below the poverty line; but nowadays, this has changed so much that "only" 12,1% of their population is considered poor. We can see that in percentage the rates have halved while in total number the difference is not so much, the main reason is that the population of this North American country has increased so much that the percentage has decreased.But if we look more carefully to the evolution of this rate we will notice that the decrease hasn't been a constant. At first, and until mid-70's, there had been a quite continuous and high decrease of poverty in the US, reaching the lowest rates of the analyzed period. After that, the rate has been up and down until 1993, when it starts a quite long decreasing period, getting an 11% poverty rate in 2000.The last interesting conclusion of this graph is probably that the recession affects importantly to the poverty, making the rates go up during this years.After that if we analyze the Table 2 of the appendix 1, which show the incomes evolution for the top and lowest 5% of the US population, we can conclude that the incomes of the US society have increased during the last 35 years, specially of those top...

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