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Lecture 9

SOCI 3660 Lecture 9: March 14

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SOCI 3660
Amber Gazso

Measuring and Theorizing Poverty -many discursive constructions regarding what it means -people have a variety of income insecurity in their life course -there is no official “poverty line” in Canada: no one has agreed on what the official poverty line is -we have an ambiguous sense of what poverty is -nonetheless, we tend to use some specific definitions: we can distinguish between relative and absolute poverty 1) Absolute poverty: cannot afford the basic necessities of life and no means of income or access to benefits from the state 2) Relative poverty: one is impoverished relative to someone else -take the average income -”someone is poor in relation to the average or median income” -these relative measures, the average/median income, are the incomes that would allow these families to afford such necessities -the low-income cutoff is a relative measure of poverty because it compares those who are considered low-income to those who are not -detailed calculation: by the time it is done, there is a household income for both persons, and the person who has a low-income tends to spend more on basic necessities with very little disposable income remaining (extra burden in spending on food, clothing, and shelter) -duration, depth -Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Offs (LICO’s) is one common relative measure of poverty -where a family spends 20% more on food, shelter, and clothing than an average family spends 1) Average: 34.7% -the average Canadian family spent 34.7% of their income on food, shelter, and clothing 2) Low Income: 54.7% -the low income family spend 54.7% of their income on food, shelter, and clothing -Mitchell argues that these measures vary by degree of urbanization and population size: relative poverty (experience more low-income in relation to other families in other parts of the province) Poverty in Canada -there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor -what is interesting about this is that we tend to hear the growing gap in relation to income inequality and uncertainty in the US -in America, this is evident -the same issue exists, though to a lesser extent -there is a greater widening in terms of who receives what and who is not -if we measure low income or poverty as having an income below the low income cut-off (LICO), certain families and persons are more deeply affected by low-income than others -more often than not, poverty is experienced by: 1) Children 2) Aboriginal persons 3) Lone mothers 4) Unattached elderly women 5) Disabled persons 6) Racialized immigrants Who Controls Canada’s Wealth? -wealth is defined as the total sum of assets held by a family minus the total amount of debt (the net worth of the person and family) -the Institute decided to ask 3000 people how they think wealth is distributed in Canada based on a random sample -perception: this is the answer to what people think the wealth distribution is: they stated the 55.4% of the population is wealthy -the Institute compared what people thought to what the Stats Canada revealed: what they found, the actual wealth distribution, is listed on the second row -the richest individuals have the most of the country’s wealth -the bottom group has no share in the wealth -in fact, the minus signs show that those who are impoverished or in low-income are in extreme debt -this means that there is growing disparities between the two groups, as the richest control the majority of all wealth -there are additional studies that break this down even further, where the discussion turns more toward the top 10% of the wealthiest population -the other way we can see the growing income inequality in Canada is the rise in the number of persons accessing food banks -the Canadian Association of Food Banks does a hungercount, an aggregate assessment of people who access food banks, and it reveals that there has been a steady increase in people accessing food banks since 2003 -in general, women are poorer than men: feminization of poverty -people cycle in and out of poverty over their life courses -there is another huge group of the population that falls into the working poor -LICO and Working Poor -what is used to measure poverty -if the low-income cut-off (LICO) for a city is $25,000, and the working poor makes $35,000 a year, they will not qualify to access welfare -people who work for pay can be poor – the “working poor” -there is a
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