Poverty And Children In The United States

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Poverty and Children in the United States

Poverty and Children in the United States

Although the United States and Canada are the most advanced industrialized countries in the world, they have some the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world. Some children are poor because their parents are working, yet poor. Other poor children live with single mothers or recent immigrants. Children living in poverty history increased demands on their physical, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. That said, there are some industrialized nations that have reduced child poverty rates through a number of programs and policies (Stanwick, 2006).

Gap between Rich and Poor

By many accounts, the poor in wealthier countries like Canada and the United States are getting poorer, and the difference between the lowest- and highest-income families has widened. Average incomes for the poorest in Canada, for example, have increased by about 18 percent over the past 10 years, while the wealthiest families experienced a 30 percent increase. Young couples with children experienced significant downward shifts, as their average wealth clear about 30 percent over the last decade. Inequality has worsened among families with children.

Causes of Poverty

Children may be contributing to family poverty because they are a drain on family resources; however, research shows that in countries with more family-friendly policies, disposable income falls only moderately when families have children. In 2007, Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics, and Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University School of Social Work, used data from seven Western, industrialized countries to compare gaps in aggregate and available family income between families with and without children. They found that differences in earnings and labor market participation of women were key drivers in the gap, in aggregate and disposable income, taxes and government transfers also narrowed the differences. This means that poverty rates are strongly related to parents—especially mothers—having access to the labor force, the wages they earn, and government policies aimed at assisting families in obtaining and holding decent-paying, stable employment. For the most part, individuals and families are considered to be poor if and when their income and resources are deemed insufficient for them to “normally” participate in community (Waldfogel, 2007).

The low-income cutoff (LICO) and the low-income measure (LIM) are commonly used to do this, and include the calculation of proportion of income levels deemed appropriate or typical for survival—both measures of low income (or poverty) calculated in relation to other public incomes. A third, market basket measures (MBM), is a budget analysis of consumption and costs of resources, and is deemed to be a more “absolute” measure of poverty. It also remains in reference to the wider community and social context (Chung, 2006).

Some economists, such as Amartya Sen, have argued that poverty is much more than low income. In Canadian research, Don Kerr and Roderick Beaujot note that income-based measures of poverty have many well-known limitations, including the assumption of an equal sharing of financial resources across household members. Women, and especially mothers, in many cases, continue to be less likely ...
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