Panel: Deep Poverty: Understanding Trends and Causes Using Alternative Poverty Measures, and in-Depth Qualitative Interviews
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Santa Ana (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Danilo Trisi, University of Maryland; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Panel Chairs:  Beth Mattingly, The Carsey School of Public Policy
Discussants:  Deborah Schlick, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Trends in Deep Poverty from 1967-2012: The Influence of Family Structure, Employment Patterns, and the Safety Net
Liana Fox1, Christopher Wimer2, Irwin Garfinkel2, Neeraj Kaushal2 and Jane Waldfogel2, (1)Stockholm University, (2)Columbia University

After 1990s Changes in Safety Net, Children's Poverty Fell but Deep Poverty Rose
Danilo Trisi1,2 and Arloc Sherman2, (1)University of Maryland, (2)Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Understanding the Dynamics of Disconnection from Employment and Assistance: Findings from a Qualitative Study of Low-Income, Single Mothers
Heather Sandstrom1, Kristin Seefeldt2 and Pamela Loprest1, (1)Urban Institute, (2)University of Michigan

A growing number of studies have examined increases in “deep” or “extreme” poverty among families with children and trends in the number of disconnected single mothers. This panel moves the discussion forward by providing a richer understanding of how we should measure and understand deep poverty. While much has been written on historical trends in poverty and the role of government in alleviating poverty, this literature has largely focused on the official measure of poverty. The papers in this panel show how such an approach is incomplete. In particular, the official measure understates the role of government policies by failing count as income several major government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/food stamps and tax credits. One of the papers in this panel estimates historical deep poverty rates going back to 1967 using an SPM-like poverty measure. The paper also reveals the shifting role of government anti-poverty policies. A second paper in this panel shows how adequately correcting for under-reporting in TANF, SNAP, and SSI income in the CPS alters our understanding of the trends in deep poverty over the 1995-2010 period. Both papers detail the characteristics of people in deep poverty and how their labor market participation and access to safety net programs have changed over time. The third paper expands our understanding of deep poverty by using newly gathered qualitative data from in-depth interviews conducted in 2013 with 22 predominantly African American, single mothers residing in Southeast Michigan and 29 primarily Latina immigrant mothers of young children living in Los Angeles. The paper addresses the questions: (1) How do women view the experience of disconnection from the labor market and the TANF program? What role do structural issues, personal challenges, and TANF policy and office practice play in becoming disconnected?; (2)What strategies do women employ to manage financially? What role do social support networks and the public safety net play in families’ attempts to “make ends meet”? and (3) What types of material hardships do these families face and how do they respond?
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