Social Class and Families
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The Poverty Line
• Created by Molly Orshansky. She herself had grown up poor. Became an economist and
embraced task of coming up with poverty line.
o How she did it:
• She looked at US Department of Agricultural food plans to see how many
servings of meats and vegetables were needed to stay alive.
• She also had info on how much Americans would spend on food.
• 3x minimally "adequate food intake"
• 2011: poverty threshold = 22,891 for a family of four
• 2012: poverty threshold = 23,050 for a family of four
• Childhood poverty dropped in 60s, leveled during the 70s, increases in
the 80s and 90s
Making Ends Meet
• Edin and Lein: did research on welfare reliant/low wage moms. Got detailed records of
household records and spending's. They wanted to find out:
o Is welfare too generous
o How are these women doing with welfare?
• Neither group could make it on welfare or low wage. They found that it was the women
working a low wage job who were doing worse. Reason was:
o They were trying to get away from getting welfare so less welfare was given
o They had more expenses like childcare, transportation
o Were economically worse off
o Were also emotionally worse off because they were worried a lot about the safety
of their children and were constantly stressed
• (PRWORA) Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act: Welfare
Reform: To get people away from welfare and working.
Contours of Child Poverty (Litcher)
• For the US, "the issue is less of absolute material deprivation, and more if poverty or
deprivation is morally defensible in an affluent society."
o US had lower money transfers
o US has less governmental transfers to children.
• Children in the US are the poorest segment of society
o Gap has