Poverty is a key concept, both in academic research and for practical fields such as social work and policymaking. We want to understand why children raised in poverty do worse in school; why households in poor neighborhoods are evicted more often; how poverty affects health; and the answers to many other questions. Doing so requires that we agree on what “poverty” means and figure out a way to measure it. That turns out to be really hard, and often politically contentious.
This set of five short articles—which I’ve uploaded to Perusall as a single document to facilitate discussion—offers a brief, accessible history of what has been one of the most controversial concepts in the social sciences. This takes you from Mollie Orshansky up through the Supplemental Poverty Measure, and on to contemporary research aimed at understanding the effects of the COVID-19 on poverty rates. The articles are:
1. Cassidy: “Relatively Deprived: How Poor is Poor?” (The New Yorker)
2. Matthews: “The official poverty measure is garbage. The census has found a better way.” (Vox)
3. Karni: “Trump Administration Seeks to Redefine Formula for Calculating Poverty” (NYT)
4. DeParle: “A Gloomy Prediction on How Much Poverty Could Rise” (NYT)
5. DeParle: “Vast Federal Aid Has Capped Rise in Poverty, Studies Find” (NYT)
1. How have various scholars and policymakers operationalized the concept of poverty differently?
2. What goes into measuring poverty, and what’s left out?
3. How are these measures used, and why was the Trump administration trying to redefine the formula?
4. How have these differences in measurement affected what we think is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic?
5. To what extent is the very concept of “poverty” still not agreed on? Does a relative measure of poverty suggest a re-conceptualization?
1. You are required to read the uploaded documents in order to accurately answer the above question.
2. You need to give comments on the reading.
3. Answer at least 5 different parts of the reading, in that case, you will answer all of the above questions
4. Create a PDF, and highlight the parts of the reading that you found interest and you are able to apply the questions above to.
5. To help me better understand which answer belongs to which question/part of the reading, use number. So for example; the first highlighted work, you will put “1” for the comment you made.