The United States are among the richest countries in the world. Yet, as far as poverty is concerned, they are doing much worse than other countries fitting in this category. In fact, in 2017, official poverty measure estimated that 12% of americans are poor.
However, why is poverty rate in the United States higher when compared to other rich countries?
Who Is More Likely to Experience Poverty?
America has been fighting poverty for decades. In fact it has invested a lot of money in this in the past 50 years.
The action taken by the government have helped many poor people in the past. However, times have changed and, with them, the poor as well. Those solutions that worked in the past are no more effective nowadays. To understand this, just think that 50 years ago the elderly were the poorest group of the population. Currently, the portion of the population most affected by poverty are children. Many studies have shown how poor children have less chances of succeeding in life precisely because they were born poor. As a result of this, they do not have access to education and are more easily exposed to violence and drugs.
Poverty is more common among colored people. They are twice as likely to be poor if compared to whites. In fact, around 20% of people of color live in poverty. This gap in poverty rate between white and black people has its roots in history and the discrimination of black Americans. However, the fact that its consequences can be felt even today is worrying.
Living in Suburbs Makes a Difference
Another issue to consider is that poverty is becoming less visible and – in a way – less perceived. This is due to the fact that poor people tend to move to suburbs, away from city centers. According to official census figures, more than 40% of poor people live in the suburbs of some of America’s big cities. This tendency is alarming as it may lead to a vicious cycle increasing poverty rate. In fact, poor people living in clusters made up by other poor people end up being surrounded by all the consequences of poverty – violence, drugs, no education, ecc. This, in its turn, limits the future possibilities of the children living there to escape poverty.
Why is Poverty Rate Not Decreasing?
The reasons why poverty rate in the United States is not decreasing are complex and many. However, the problem lays in the fact that most Americans are still convinced that poor people are responsible for their predicament. Moreover, safety-net programmes do not taking into account that times have changed. For instance, the federal poverty level that determines a person’s eligibility for safety-net programmes needs to be revised.