Friday, April 22, 2016

Curious how poverty works?

In a report published this month by the Brookings institute, we're offered a look at American poverty for adults aged 25 to 61.

Let's consider how certain disadvantages might combine to make life more difficult. How do those play out across racial categories? Not surprisingly, such impediments tend to afflict blacks and hispanics more than whites. Here's the list:

1.                 Low household income 
(Less than 1.5 x the poverty line)

2.               Limited education 
(Less than a high school)
3.               Lack of health insurance
4.               Low income area 
(Area poverty rate 20+ percent)
5.                Household unemployment
About half of us in America encountered at least one of these disadvantages in the inquiry year, 2014. But, if you are black or hispanic, you were about twice as likely to face that disadvantage as your white acquaintance.

Moving on to those occasions of dealing with two or more such obstacles to upward progress, the racial gap widens.  Most white adults don't face any of the five difficulties, most black and hispanic adults do.

Black residents are more likely to live in a poor area and perhaps in a jobless family.   Hispanics are more likely to lack a high school education and perhaps health insurance as well.  Why is that?  Are they welcomed differently or treated differently?

If we're going to understand and deal with inequality and with poverty, understanding the difficulties a family might face will help us know how to help with government and organizational assistance efforts.  And individual efforts as well will benefit from understanding.  Change makers and help bringers must be knowledgeable and skilled.

America measures poverty with an income-only yardstick.  Are they missing some important details?  Of course.  
"A more multifaceted approach to measuring poverty, like the one offered here, reveals some of the insights that can be gained in the U.S. by framing the issue more broadly—from revealing the deep racial and ethnic disparities that exist to shedding light on the differing dimensions of disadvantage experienced from one group to the next." ~Brookings,  | 
Helping without hurting isn't simply a money handout, is it.  The most extraordinarily counterproductive attempt to help might be just giving money without plan or goal.  The only less informed position would be to just tell them to get a job.

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