Category Archives: Measuring Poverty

New Report: Measuring Mobility from Poverty

New Report: Gregory Acs et al., Measuring Mobility from Poverty (US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, 2018).


Op-Ed: In the American West, Arbitrary Poverty Designations Are Shortchanging the Rural Poor

Op-ed: Elizabeth Zach, In the American West, Arbitrary Poverty Designations Are Shortchanging the Rural Poor, Truthout, April 21, 2018.

CRS Report: An Introduction to Poverty Measurement (2017)

A 2017 Congressional Research Services report perhaps of interest, Joseph Dalaker, An Introduction to Poverty Measurement (March 9, 2017).

Pathways “State of the Union 2018” Report from the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality [Focuses on Gender this year]

Pathways-SOTU18-cover_smallPathways “State of the Union 2018” Report. Table of contents below:

Executive Summary
Gender Identification
The traditional gender binary just doesn’t work. When respondents of a national survey were asked about their femininity and masculinity, 7 percent considered themselves equally feminine and masculine, and another 4 percent responded in ways that did not “match” their sex at birth (i.e., females who saw themselves as more masculine than feminine, or males who saw themselves as more feminine than masculine).
Despite common beliefs to the contrary, male students do not consistently outperform female students in mathematics. It’s only in high school that the male advantage in mathematics surfaces. What’s going on?
For women and men alike, life expectancy has stagnated for the last several years, primarily due to increases in drug poisoning deaths and in the suicide rate. The male-female life expectancy gap, which favors females, fell from 7.6 years in 1970 to 4.8 years in 2010, a reduction of more than one-third.
After rising steadily for many decades, the overall female employment rate has been falling since 2000. Why has it fallen? Are there straightforward policy fixes that could increase women’s employment?
When gender differences in labor force participation, fringe benefits, and self-employment income are taken into account, women earn only 57 cents for each dollar earned by men.
Are women more likely than men to be in deep poverty, official poverty, and near poverty? Yes, yes, and yes.
Safety Net
Why do women use safety net programs more than men? A hint: It’s not just because they’re more likely to be eligible for them.
Occupational Segregation
Nearly half of the women in the labor force would have to move to a different occupation to eliminate all occupational segregation by gender. This is a classic case of stalled change: If recent rates of change are extrapolated, it would take 330 years to reach full integration.
A new science of gender discrimination is being built with audit studies and other experiments. A key result: Gender discrimination is more likely to emerge when the applicant’s commitment to work can be called into question or when an applicant is behaving in a gender-nonconforming way.
Workplace Sexual Harassment
The workplace is rife with sexual harassment. By age 25 to 26, one in three women and one in seven men experience behavior at work that they define as sexual harassment.
Social Networks
Although men used to have more social ties than men, now the gender gap has reversed and women have the larger networks. But women still have fewer coworker ties than men … and coworker ties matter a lot.
What are the most promising science-based policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market?

New Article: “Pleading Poverty in Federal Court”

New Article: Andrew Hammond, Pleading Poverty in Federal Court, forthcoming Yale L.J. (SSRN Mar. 2018). Abstract below:

What must a poor person plead to gain access to the federal courts? How do courts decide when a poor litigant is poor enough? This Article answers those questions with the first comprehensive study of how district courts determine when a litigant may proceed in forma pauperis in a civil lawsuit. This Article confirms that district courts lack standards to determine a litigant’s poverty and often require litigants to answer a stunning array of intrusive questions to little effect. As a result, discrepancies in federal practice abound — across and within district courts — and produce a pleading system that is irrational, inefficient, and invasive.

This Article makes four contributions. First, it codes all the poverty pleadings currently used by the 94 federal district courts. Second, the Article shows that the flaws of these pleading procedures are neither inevitable nor characteristic of poverty determinations. By comparing federal practice to other federal means tests and state court practices, the Article demonstrates that a more streamlined, yet rights-respecting approach is possible. Third, the Article proposes a coherent in forma pauperis standard — one that would align federal practice with federal law, promote reasoned judicial administration, and protect the dignity of litigants. Such a solution proves that judges need not choose between extending access to justice and preserving court resources. In this instance and perhaps others, judges can serve both bedrock commitments of the federal system. Fourth, the Article illustrates how to study procedure from the bottom up. Given the persistent and widening levels of inequality in American society, no account of civil procedure is complete without an understanding of how poor people litigate today.

New Article: “Money in the Mental Lives of the Poor”

MoneyNew Article: Anuj K. Shah et al., Money in the Mental Lives of the Poor, Social Cognition: Vol. 36, Special Issue: The Status of Status: Vistas from Social Cognition, pp. 4-19 (2018). Abstract below:

Recent research has studied how resource scarcity draws attention and creates cognitive load. As a result, scarcity improves some dimensions of cognitive function, while worsening others. Still, there remains a fundamental question: how does scarcity influence the content of cognition? In this article, we find that poor individuals (i.e., those facing monetary scarcity) see many everyday experiences through a different lens. Specifically, thoughts about cost and money are triggered by mundane circumstances, they are difficult to suppress, they change mental associations, and they interfere with other experiences. We suggest that the poor see an economic dimension to many everyday experiences that to others may not appear economic at all.

Read More:

New Op-ed: “Millions of Americans as destitute as the world’s poorest? Don’t believe it.”

New Op-ed: Ryan Briggs, Millions of Americans as destitute as the world’s poorest? Don’t believe it.,, Feb. 1, 2018. [I admit, I had a similar reaction to the original op-ed.]

Op-Ed: “The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem”

Op-Ed: Angus Denton, The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem, N.Y. Times, Jan. 24, 2018.

(Self-Promotion) New Op-ed: “Exceptional Indifference: An International Perspective on U.S. Poverty”

(Self-Promotion) New Op-ed: Ezra Rosser, Exceptional Indifference: An International Perspective on U.S. Poverty, CommonDreams, Jan. 21, 2018. [This is an op-ed about U.S. poverty in an international perspective and recent efforts to make life worse for poor people.]

News Coverage: “The Psychology of Inequality”

News Coverage: Elizabeth Kolbert, The Psychology of Inequality, The New Yorker, Jan. 15, 2018.

-Thanks to Francine Lipman for the heads up!