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Poverty in America

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Poverty in America

Who are the people sleeping and living in public places? Why are they homeless? People become homeless

for different reasons. Usually, they cannot pay for housing.

People with little education and few jobs skills cannot earn much money. With low income, they stay poor. As housing costs rise, more and more people cannot afford homes. Around thirteen million children in America live in poverty at any given time nearly two hundred thousand children are homeless (Worth 6).

Health problems and job layoffs also keep people from working steadily. Sometimes relatives or friends are able to help until the poor find work. But without help poor people often become homeless. A high rate of divorce, and

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fathers abandoning families, leaving women and children with little or no money. There are also teen-age mothers raising children without help (9).

This belief maybe growing as a result of significant changes in welfare laws and hardening attitudes toward the needy. Welfare was long considered an entitlement that the poor could receive for a lifetime. Now states are setting strict time limits on welfare benefits and forcing many poor people to go to work. Meanwhile, more communities are refusing to expand their aid to the needy, restricting panhandling by the homeless, and permitting practices that exploit poor migrant farm workers (Bowden 6).

All of these changes are occurring at the time when the American poverty rate is climbing. The rise has been blamed on a number of causes: the decay of large cities, the bankrupt of many family farms across country, a decline in the number of unskilled jobs traditionally filled by poor people, and an increasing number of single-parent families who often rely on welfare to survive. While politicians devise ways to move people off welfare and into work, there is no guarantee that work alone will eliminate the problem of poverty. Most former welfare recipients move into law- skill jobs with no health benefits and pay rate too low to lift


them above the poverty line(7).

It is difficult to compare poverty levels in different countries. Countries not only have different currencies, they have different family income levels, consumption patterns, prices for goods and services, spending patterns, and family and demographic characteristics. Different countries also adopt very different criteria for setting absolute income thresholds that define poverty. As a result, most cross- national studies use relative measures of poverty as a basis for comparison(Stearman8).

Poverty measures based on an international poverty line attempt to do this. The commonly used one dollar a day standard, measured in 1985 international prices and adjusted to local currency rising purchasing power parities, was chosen for the World Bank’s World Development Report 1990: Poverty because it is typical of the poverty lines in low-income countries. Purchasing power parity exchange rates, such as those from the Penn World Tables are used because they take into account the local prices of goods and services that are not traded internationally. But purchasing power parity rates were designed not for comparing aggregates from national accounts. As a result there is no uncertainty that an international poverty line measure the same degree of deprivation across countries (10).

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Just as there are problems in comparing a poverty measure for one country with that for one country with that for another, there can also be problems in comparing poverty measure within countries. For example, the cost of living is typically higher in urban than in rural areas. So the urban monetary poverty line should be higher than the rural poverty line. But it is not always clear that the actual difference between urban and rural poverty lines found in practice properly reflects the difference in the cost of living (12).

The problem of making poverty comparisons do not end there. Further issues arise in measuring household living standards. The choice between income and consumption as a welfare indicator is one issue. Income are generally more difficult to measure accurately, and consumption accords better with the idea of the standard of living than does income, which can vary over time even if the standard of living does not (Nichelason 15).


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