Hunger News and Trends

A Majority Will Experience Economic Insecurity At Some Point

By September 18, 2015 No Comments

A recently released study shows that the poor in America are not a permanent class of people. Instead, it suggests that over the course of a lifetime, people will move in and out of poverty – someone who is poor one year, may not be a few years later or vice versa.

A recently released study shows that the poor in America are not a permanent class of people. Instead, it suggests that over the course of a lifetime, people will move in and out of poverty – someone who is poor one year, may not be a few years later or vice versa

Sociologist Mark Rank of Washington University has been studying several families since 1968, tracking and evaluating their economic fortunes or misfortunes over the years. He has found, that if you study people over a long period of time, you’ll find that a high number of them experience economic insecurity at least once in their lives. In fact nearly four out of five people in his study had experienced economic hardship by the time they were 60, whether it was being unemployed, relying on government assistance, or spending at least one year in poverty. This demonstrates that poverty is a very common occurrence and can happen to anyone.
 
Further, Rank’s data demonstrates that poverty and affluence are not steady states. Only 3.5% of people in his study relied on government aid for ten years straight; most people need a little help every now and then. His data also highlights the disparities across different demographics. Americans with some college education and Americans that are white are more likely to experience affluence when compared to minorities. His study shows that 44% of white people will experience at least one year of affluence by age 60, which is true for only 16% of non-white people. 
 
Using Rank’s data, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics was created, which reflects the demographics of America. This model was used to predict that nearly 80% of people in America will experience economic hardship by the time they are 60. As Rank states, if more people recognize that poverty is something a majority of Americans will experience for at least one year of their lives, perhaps there would be greater support for programs that help the poor.