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Lecture 2

SOCI 250 Lecture 2: ch2 .docx

Course Code
SOCI 250
Jason Carmichael

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Roughly 1/3 Canadians earn less than 30k/year (not poverty line)
1% makes over 250k
Poverty: social problem or personal problem?
- how can poverty be a personal problem
- how can it be a social problem
it could be a social problem because its happening in the systematic infrastructure, its built into society -
some people are given more opportunities (racism, gender inequality, etc)
being attractive in the work force is quantifiable - you can make more or less money based on how
attractive you are
absolute poverty: do not have enough of basic needs for survival: food shelter access to essential
relative poverty: can survive, but living standards are below general living standards of society or
social group to which they belong
poverty line is used to measure poverty, definition of poverty varies by society, within societies, and over
In Canada: LICO: low income cut off, poverty is based on 2 factors:
1. size of family and community
2. based on average % of income spent on necessities (food, housing, clothing)
average Canadian spend 35% of pretax income on necessities
families who spend 20% more than average are considered poor

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this is a relative measure of poverty: it compares each household to the average of the country
if below the line, entitled to social welfare
In Canada, LICO was too generous, too many entitled to benefits so in 2003, MBM: market basket measure
Based on imaginary basket of market priced goods and services, considers the income needed to purchase
these items
Basket excludes all but absolute essentials of bare survival (determined by bureaucrats)
This is an absolute measure of poverty: focuses on absolutely essential needs
In USA, poverty threshold determined by social security agency in 1960
Based on the cost of a basic nutritionally adequate diet multiplied by 3
Assume that the poor spend 1/3 of annual income on food
Adjusted annually for inflation
In 2011, threshold for 1 person was $10 890 and $18 530 for 3
The main concern is basically food
Extreme poverty: family income below ½ of poverty threshold
Problems with [USA] measure:
Sociologists argue that poverty thresholds should be set at ½ of median income for households (relative
measure) because each governments own line is politically biased and makes it difficult to compare
different societies
Nothing looks at size of community or housing, which takes up a larger proportion of budget than food
Does not consider variation of cost of living across the country
Does not consider health care costs

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Human Poverty Index (UN) use probability at birth of not surviving to 60, people lacking functional literacy
skills and long term unemployment, population below the median income to determine the threshold.
Extent of poverty:
Based on official American definition, there are about 35 million people in poverty (11.7%)
When considering “true” cost to live in USA many scholars suggest that the number of people living in
poverty could be closer to 80 million people (30%)
Poverty rate in 2003 was 13.2% (MBM) - slightly higher than the US but Canada uses a diff definition of
Who is poor in the US?
- white 8.2%
- African American 24.4%
- Latino 22.5%
- Asian 11.8%
- men 18%
- women 22.6% (female to male earning ratio is .76)
- native 11.8%
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