Poverty in Massachusetts

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Jessica Jeffery
April 21, 2011
Final Paper

Poverty in Massachusetts:

I. Introduction

When people are asked the question “If you could wish you one thing what would it be?” The cliché answer is “I wish to end world hunger”, every time I hear that I always wonder why is it that we can’t end world hunger? Especially in the United States since it is such an advanced country, so for my final paper I am going to focus on poverty in Massachusetts, I feel that everyday people take for granted what they have, and don’t realize how poverty is affecting people in our surrounding neighborhoods. I wanted to study the statistics for Massachusetts because as a Northeastern student I want to learn about my surroundings and go deep into the core of why poverty is happening in a state that tends to be classified as “having money”. In order to for me to do this I looked at the top cities in Massachusetts that have the highest poverty rates, then I will be looking at the top two cities and will take a closer look at what factors are causing these cities to be higher in poverty rate over other cities. I will also be looking at state as a whole and looking into different races, and genders, and seeing who tends to be higher in poverty and why.

Learning about poverty in Massachusetts can be great in helping students learn about what is happening in their surrounding environment and educate college students, who are soon to be in the real world the impact of poverty and possibly find better solutions and help out. Before I get into actual Massachusetts data I wanted to look at what defines poverty. There are two different versions of the federal poverty measure 1. Poverty threshold: which is the original version of the federal poverty measure. They are updated each year by the Census Bureau, and mainly used for statistical purposes and 2. Poverty guidelines: is the other version of the federal poverty measure. The guidelines are a simplification of the poverty thresholds for use for administrative purposes (what are poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines).

II. Data
The fist thing I looked at when looking at poverty in Massachusetts is where poverty is at the highest levels. In order from largest to smallest these are the statistics: Holyoke = 26.4%, Lawrence = 24.3%, Chelsea = 23.3%, Springfield = 23.1%, New Bedford = 20.2%, Boston = 19.5%, Fall River = 17.1%, Lowell = 16.8%, Lynn = 16.5% and Fitchburg = 15.0%, Massachusetts as a whole is at a 9.9% rate, that means that one out of every ten people living in Massachusetts is living in poverty. After learning this data the question that comes to mind is “Why is poverty happening?” the simple explanation is that people living in these cities are reliant on the market for their basic needs such as food, utilities, shelter, and health care but the prices of these items rise with the market but the low paying jobs will not raise their wages therefore people are able to afford a decent living. This causes neighborhoods to gain a negative stigma, which then causes businesses, teachers, and health care providers to stay away from these areas, which then leads to shortage of jobs, bad education, and low quality health care. It’s all a chain reaction it goes from one thing to another (Boston).

III. Massachusetts as a whole
Before I break down some of the cities within Massachusetts I am going to look at the state as a whole. Along with poverty come welfare, homelessness, and hunger. By separating race, class, and gender it will show who are being affected the most and why. According to statehealthfacts.org in 2009 the race with the highest poverty rate are Hispanics. There are about 217,900 Hispanics in the state of Massachusetts and are at a 41% poverty rate. The next highest race to follow the Hispanics is Blacks with a 26% rate. This shows a large difference between the two. Poverty within Hispanics in Massachusetts has been a steady struggle since the 1970s....
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