Poverty Source Notes

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"Poverty." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2010.Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. 1. The definition of poverty used by the U.S. government is based on the amount of money a person or family would need to pay for food. It assumes that most people spend about one-third of their budget on food. The poverty line—the annual income level below which one is considered to live in poverty—is the cost of food for one year multiplied by three, with some other adjustments. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates poverty lines separately for individuals and for different types of households. In 2012, the poverty line for a family of four was an annual income (pre-tax) of $23,050; for one person living alone the figure was $11,170. 2. The U.S. government’s method of defining poverty has been the subject of criticism. One criticism is that it counts only cash income and ignores assistance received in the form of food subsidies, housing, or medical care. Over the years, the government has increased noncash assistance to the poor far more than cash benefits. 3. The poverty rate, an important economic indicator, refers to the percentage of a given group of people who live in poverty. In the late 1950s, about 22 percent of Americans—nearly 40 million people—were in poverty.  4. The so-called “situational theory” takes a different view, focusing on the economic and social conditions that cause poverty rather than on individual attitudes and behavior. One example is the high level of unemployment often found in poor communities. According to situational theory, children living in such an environment have little exposure to the job market and, as a result, they grow up ill-prepared to take advantage of economic opportunities that may arise. 5. Because white people are by far the largest racial group in the United States (about 78 percent of the total population), the number of whites living in poverty is greater than that of any other group. However, a much higher percentage of blacks than whites live in poverty. Poverty rates for all people of color reached historic lows in 2000: for example, about 21 percent for Hispanic Americans and 22 percent for African Americans. By the onset of the recession of 2008, however, the numbers looked grim: about 30 percent of Hispanic Americans lived in poverty, along with 33 percent of African Americans. These numbers continued to rise, and by 2011, 35 percent of African Americans and 33 percent of Hispanic Americans were living in poverty.

Atwood, J. Brian. "Foreign Assistance Can Reduce Global Poverty." Poverty. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Alleviating Poverty: Is Aid the Answer?" www.hhh.umn.edu. 2008. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

1. An argument has been made that foreign assistance has been a failure over the past 50 or so years. Easterly has made that case in a typical economist's fashion—he has measured economic growth rates and the accumulation of wealth against the investments that have been made. What he leaves out is the progress made in agriculture, infant mortality rates, availability of potable water, the increased accessibility of family planning, and other health and nutrition interventions. Yes, there has been some waste. That is inevitable when you are dealing with very difficult challenges. But the question should be "What would the world look like today had we not made the investments?" [Development expert] Carol Lancaster argues that a 70% success rate is what a venture capitalist aims for. That is the success rate of foreign assistance. Not bad. 2. Second, much of the waste Easterly cites occurred because foreign aid—that is what it was called then—was both an experiment in the early days and a political tool during the Cold War. The first experiments with assistance involved concepts that were top-down, concepts like the "rising...
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