Canadian Social Research Links

American Non-Governmental
Social Research Links

Sites de recherche sociale au Canada

Sites non-gouvernementaux de
recherche sociale aux États-Unis

Updated March 12, 2017
Page révisée le 12 mars 2017

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Related Canadian Social Research Links pages:

American Non-Government Social Research Links (A-J)
American Government Social Research Links
U.S. Social Security Reform
Children and Families - International
Social Research Statistics
Poverty measures:
- Canadian resources
- U.S. and other international resources

What are good sources of information on basic trends in poverty, welfare, and related issues in America?
Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)
[University of Wisconsin-Madison ]


* President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
- from Wikipedia


NOTE: For a large collection of links related to poverty measurement in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, go to the Poverty Measures - International Resources page of this site:


Poverty Dispatch
- U.S.
- links to news items from the American press about poverty, welfare reform, child welfare, education, health, hunger, Medicare and Medicaid, etc.

Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)
[ University of Wisconsin-Madison ] is a new world-wide movement for a better global economy. is a movement of consumers, workers and shareholders speaking with one voice to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations.
(4,856,557 members worldwide as at June 26, 2014

Here’s what we stand for:
Governments that answer to citizens – not corporations
Fair treatment of workers and the right of every human being to make a living, safely and ethically, for themselves and their family;
The right of ordinary consumers to products that are produced and marketed ethically, sustainably and transparently;
The right of communities to manage and protect their own environment and natural resources;
Business models that put people and the planet first instead of being driven by shortsighted greed.

Quotes from the The American Taliban

- memorable quotes from Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Laura Schlessinger and other American Conservative quotables.

For reasons NOT to compare welfare in Canada with welfare in the U.S., go the Welfare in Canada vs the U.S. page:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
- from Wikipedia

NOTE : The top half of this page of links is in reverse chronological order, with the most recent addition at the top.

The bottom half of the page comprises the rest of the U.S. NGOs in alpha order , M to Z

[ See also
American NGO Social Research Links (A-J) ]

From Vox Media:

The Republican plan to slash Medicaid, explained
Updated by Dylan Matthews
March 10, 2017

The American Health Care Act: the Republicans’ bill to replace Obamacare, explained
Updated by Sarah Kliffsarah

Robert Reich explains Authoritarianism,
Trump's threat to Democracy
(YouTube video, duration 13:54)
Posted January 7, 2017
Democracy in its fundamental form as a safeguard against concentration of power. One of Robert Reich's more poignant 13 min "office hours". Get a coffee and watch this before you start your day.

NOTE : includes biographical notes about Robert Reich.

The Failure of Welfare Reform
By Jordan Weissmann
June 1, 2016
How Bill Clinton’s signature legislative achievement tore America’s safety net.
(...)Americans have always been philosophically uncomfortable with letting adults live on the public dole...

Slate Magazine

Welfare and the Politics of Poverty (video, duration 13:27)
"...ending welfare as we knew it."

What happened on June 14, 1994?
Click the link above for the answer.

Forget Steak and Seafood: Here’s How Welfare Recipients Actually Spend Their Money
April 15, 2015
In 2013, Ann Foster and William Hawk of the Bureau of Labor Statistics used data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to analyze the spending habits of families who receive public assistance, including food stamps, cash welfare, housing aid, or Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, their budgets tend to be quite modest. Their big budget items are housing, transportation, and food, spending on which came out to about $6,460 per year, or about $124 per week. That's for an average family of 3.7 people—meaning roughly $33 per mouth to feed. Based on some brief online searching, king crab legs cost about $34 a pound these days (though bulk discounts might be available).

Slate Magazine

The income gap between bosses and workers is getting even bigger worldwide
By Jena McGregor
March 13, 2015
Income inequality has become a hot-button political issue in the United States. The size of Wall Street bonuses has been compared against the median household income. More and more companies are upping the pay of minimum-wage workers amid growing protests. And someday soon, companies are expected to be required to disclose the ratio of pay between CEOs and their median employees.
- includes a chart showing changes in pay disparity in 63 countries [including Canada] between 2008 and 2014.

Washington Post


- Go to the Income and Wealth Inequality Links page:

From the
Washington Post Wonkblog:

How big food brands are boosting profits by targeting the poor
By Roberto A. Ferdman
February 7, 2015
In order to offer the facade of affordability, manufacturers like Kraft are selling food in smaller packages. These granola bars, sauces, cereals, and prepared meals look like they cost less, but actually are far more expensive on a per ounce basis, according to Reuters.
... people go to Dollar General to save, because they have to. And according to this Reuters story, they're buying food that looks cheaper but is ultimately costing them more.

Washington Post


- Go to the Food Banks and Hunger Links page:

How Expensive it is to be Poor
January 18, 2015
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released a study [ ] that found that most wealthy Americans believed “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”

This is an infuriatingly obtuse view of what it means to be poor in this country — the soul-rending omnipresence of worry and fear, of weariness and fatigue. This can be the view only of those who have not known — or have long forgotten — what poverty truly means.“Easy” is a word not easily spoken among the poor. Things are hard — the times are hard, the work is hard, the way is hard.

New York Times

Eleven myths about homelessness in America
By German Lopez
January 15, 2015
NOTE : includes an explanation of each myth and links to arguments refute that myth
Myth #1: Homeless people are lazy and don't want to work.
Myth #2: Getting a job will keep someone out of homelessness.
Myth #3: Homelessness is long-term problem.
Myth #4: Homelessness is typically related to mental illness.
Myth #5: Most homeless people are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Myth #6: The homeless are older and single.
Myth #7: Homelessness is only a problem in big cities.
Myth #8: Homeless people live in the streets.
Myth #9: Homelessness is going away.
Myth #10: Government housing programs strain budgets.
Myth #11: Fighting homelessness is expensive.


Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty
By Lyndsey Layton
January 16, 2015
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports [ ] that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

By Gilles:
Such a damn shame that governments continue to pump trillions of dollars into the War Machine when a relatively small fraction of those dollars would wipe out food insecurity and poverty...

Washington Post

Our giant welfare state
By Robert J. Samuelson
November 25, 2014
We Americans pride ourselves on not having a “welfare state.” We’re not like Europeans. We’re more individualistic and self-reliant, and although we may have a “social safety net” to protect people against unpredictable personal and societal tragedies, we explicitly repudiate a comprehensive welfare state as inherently un-American.

Dream on.

Call it a massive case of national self-deception. Indeed, judged by how much of their national income countries devote to social spending, we have the world’s second-largest welfare state — just behind France.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — a group of wealthy nations — has recently published new figures on government social spending (see . Covered is unemployment insurance, disability payments, old-age assistance, government-provided health care, family allowances and the like. By this measure alone, the United States is hardly a leader. It ranks 23rd in the world with social spending of roughly 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)

Washington Post

The Three Biggest Lies About Poverty
By Robert Reich
June 14, 2014
Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.They’re peddling three big lies about poverty.
To wit:
Lie #1: Economic growth reduces poverty.
Lie #2: Jobs reduce poverty.
Lie #3: Ambition cures poverty.
- incl. links to 11 source documents and studies

[ The author of this article, Robert Reich, is currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.
He was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.]

Sky Valley Chronicle

Numbeo is the world’s largest database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide. Numbeo provides current and timely information on world living conditions including cost of living, housing indicators, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.
* 1,275,187 prices in 4,452 cities entered by 147,644 users
* information updated 2014-05-31

Numbeo lets you compare the cost of living in two cities or two countries focusing on the following indicators:
* Cost Of Living * Property Prices * Crime * Health Care * Pollution * Traffic * Traffic * Quality Of Life * Travel

I highly recommend this online resource!
(It even includes a Taxi Fare Calculator, a Gas Prices Calculator and Hotel Prices!)

Country links
[Scroll down to the bottom half of the Numbeo home page for country links, including Canada:
[ ]
You can check and compare each of the above indicators between Canada and other countries or compare cities within in Canada; the database contains info on 100+ Canadian cities. was launched in April 2009.
The research and available data at are not influenced by any governmental organization.

Recent postings
from Mother Jones:

Ten Poverty Myths, Busted
No, single moms aren't the problem. And neither are absentee dads.
By Erika Eichelberger
Mother Jones
March/April 2014 Issue [ ]
[Click the link above to see the facts - including sources - debunking each of the 10 statements below.]

1. Single moms are the problem.
2. Absent dads are the problem.
3. Black dads are the problem
4. Poor people are lazy.
5. If you're not officially poor, you're doing okay.
6. Go to college, get out of poverty.
7. We're winning the war on poverty.
8. The days of old ladies eating cat food are over.
9. The homeless are drunk street people.
10. Handouts are bankrupting us. ("In 2012, total welfare funding was 0.47 percent of the federal budget.")


Followup aticle in Mother Jones:

Debunking the Attempted Debunking of Our 10 Poverty Myths, Debunked:
If National Review really believes in defending the Second Amendment, why'd they bring a knife to this gun fight?
By Erika Eichelberger
Mar. 28, 2014
Earlier this week, Mother Jones published a piece I wrote [see Ten Poverty Myths, above], in which I listed 10 commonly held notions about poor people and debunked them. The piece aimed to take down misconceptions about the poor—they're leeches, they're lazy, etc.—that end up shaping policy. Kevin Williamson at National Review Online [ ], a conservative news site, took issue with the story.

Williamson responded to each item from my original piece, in an attempt to prove that the myths were true. Here are his responses to my original post, plus reasons why he's wrong.

Mother Jones
Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting. We currently have two main "platforms": an award-winning bimonthly national magazine (circulation 240,000), and a website featuring new, original reporting 24-7.


Related links
from Mother Jones:

What If Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong?
Researcher Kathryn Edin left the ivory tower for the streets of Camden—and turned sociology upside down.
By Stephanie Mencimer
March/April 2014 issue of Mother Jones
Some social scientists will rent an office building and bring people in and interview them. But experiencing what other people are experiencing while you're studying them is just critical.
For three years, Johns Hopkins University sociologist Kathryn Edin lived with her family in a studio apartment in one of the country's most dangerous, impoverished neighborhoods: East Camden, New Jersey. Edin is one of the nation's preeminent poverty researchers. She has spent much of the past several decades studying some of the country's most dangerous, impoverished neighborhoods.
Mother Jones
March/April 2014 Issue
[ ]


How We Won—and Lost—the War on Poverty, in 6 Charts
By Erika Eichelberger et al.
January 8, 2014
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson said it was a war America couldn't afford to lose.
See how much poverty has changed since then.


And more...

Paul Ryan Wants to Block-Grant Food Stamps and Medicaid. That’s a Terrible Idea.
April 2, 2014

We Could Do a Lot More to Fight Poverty If We Wanted To
January 6, 2014

New Study Says Poverty Rate Hasn't Budged For 40 Years
December. 9, 2013

Quote of the Day: Paul Ryan Continues to Pretend He Wants to Fight Poverty
November 19, 2013

Charts: US Responsible for Most of Gains in Global Wealth, Despite Record Poverty Levels
October 10, 2013

Fast-Food Workers Protest Poverty McWages
April 6, 2013

Urban Institute: Fact Sheets
The Urban Institute produces dozens of timely policy papers and fact sheets that are read widely by policymakers, journalists, and those with a passion for major metropolitan areas. From this site, users will find access to well over 100 fact sheets. The topics covered include housing finance, economic insecurity, Social Security, and the labor force. Visitors can browse through a complete list of all the topics on the left-hand side of the page. The site also contains links to relevant full-length policy reports and a mix of other related links from various policy centers within the Institute. Additionally, users can take advantage of the Press Room which contains even more information on each fact sheet and topical area.

The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014


Selected Urban Institute links (lower down on the page you're now reading)

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

* The Measuring American Poverty Act

* Links to Federal Poverty Measurement Resources

* Poverty Measure Research

NOTE: For a large collection of links related to poverty measurement in the U.S.
and elsewhere in the world, go to the Poverty Measures - International Resources page of this site:

Americans Are Deeply Divided Over What Causes Poverty in the First Place
By Emily Badgerjan
January 23, 2014
Barack Obama is expected to devote much of his State of the Union address next Tuesday to poverty and inequality, themes that will no doubt bring to the fore broad differences in how Americans think the government should tackle both issues. The Pew Research Center has a new survey out today [see the link below], in partnership with USA Today, confirming what you may already suspect: Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to believe the government should try hard to reduce both problems.

Atlantic Cities


Most See Inequality Growing, but Partisans Differ over Solutions
54% Favor Taxing the Wealthy to Expand Aid to Poor
January 23, 2014

Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

See also:

USA Today

The 2014 Federal Budget, Per Person
By Wilson Andrews and Alicia Parlapiano
January 18, 2014
The House and Senate last week passed a hefty spending bill that included $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending for 2014 and provided funds for some mandatory programs (though the bill does not control the levels of that spending). Because it can be hard to comprehend the scale of large government programs, here is a look at a selection of those included in the bill (and a couple of others), expressed in cost per U.S. resident.

New York Times

Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections
By Julia Isaacs et al.
September 24, 2013
Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections
, a seventh annual report, looks comprehensively at federal spending and taxes on children. Federal outlays on children fell by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, which is the greatest single-year drop since the early 1980s.
NOTE : The link to the complete document (in PDF format) appears to the right of the brief abstract. The page also includes links to related publications (3) and other publications by the same authors. You can also click on a tag (just below the abstract) to access all items found under that tag.

Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children
This series of annual reports looks comprehensively at trends in federal and state spending and tax expenditures on children—the kids’ share of public spending.
- includes 25 links to earlier editions of this report and related resources (back to 2007).

Urban Institute - A nonpartisan economic and social research organization
The Urban Institute is a nonprofit policy research organization established in Washington, D.C., in 1968. The Institute's goals are to sharpen thinking about society's problems and efforts to solve them, improve government decisions and their implementation, and increase citizens' awareness about important public choices

More selected reports from The Urban Institute:
This link will take you further down on the page you're now reading

Seeking Ways to Help the Poor and Childless
By Eduardo Porter
January 14, 2014
A program similar to the earned-income tax credit acknowledges that the job market alone can’t provide for all workers’ needs.
[ The Earned Income Tax Credit is a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income. A tax credit means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund. The earned-income tax credit is the largest cash-transfer program in the United States, costing some $61 billion in 2010. It provides up to $3,305 a year to low-income working families with one child, and up to $6,143 for those with three or more. ]

New York Times

More info about the
Earned Income Tax Credit in 2014

(From the Internal Revenue Service - IRS),-Maximum-Credit--Amounts-and-Tax-Law-Updates

Earned Income Tax Credit home page (IRS website)


Earned income tax credit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Earned Income Tax Credit
Center on budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)


The EITC is often compared with
the [Canadian] Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB):

* Service Canada WITB page:

* Canada Revenue Agency WITB page:

In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary
By Eduardo Porter
December 17, 2013
When President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty [ ] on Jan. 8, 1964, almost exactly 50 years ago, 19 percent of Americans were poor. “The richest nation on earth can afford to win it,” he reasoned, as he proposed a clutch of initiatives from expanding food stamps to revamping unemployment insurance. “We cannot afford to lose it.”

A half-century later, our priorities have changed.
In November, food benefits were cut for approximately 48 million Americans by an average of 7 percent. Next month, 1.3 million jobless workers are scheduled to stop receiving an unemployment check, after Congress’s refusal to prolong the extension of emergency jobless benefits to up to 73 weeks, from 26. The official poverty rate today is 15 percent.
Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.
Welfare reform in the mid-1990s, to a large extent, replaced cash payments with food stamps and an expanded earned-income tax credit. But the tax credit is of no use to those without jobs.

New York Times

Drug Tests Falter as Way for States to Deny Public Aid
By Steven Yaccino
October 25, 2013
With safety-net spending under review around the country, proposals to make welfare and unemployment checks contingent on drug testing have become a routine rallying cry in dozens of states. But the impact of drug-testing measures has been limited. Supporters say the tests are needed to protect welfare and unemployment compensation funds as the nation emerges from the recession. But their enactment has often been hampered by legal challenges and the expense of running the programs, which generally uncover relatively few drug users.
This year, at least 29 states considered drug testing for people who receive cash assistance from the primary federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but only two measures passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New York Times

Working Poor Families Project (U.S.)
January 24, 2013
The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) is a American initiative to strengthen state policies that can assist families striving to work their way into the middle class and achieve economic security.

This group recently released a report entitled:
It makes the case that even though the economy appears to be recovering many families are being left behind and the income inequality gap is only expanding.
From the introduction:
While the U.S. economy has shown some signs of recovery—the U.S. unemployment rate has dipped below 8 percent from 10 percent three years ago—the economic outlook for many working families is bleak. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of low-income working families in the United States increased to 10.4 million in 2011, up from 10.2 million a year earlier.

[United States] How do you solve a problem like poverty?
October 25, 2013

Around the world, thousands of policy makers, elected officials, and NGOs work to address the problem of poverty. It is vastly different in the developing world of course, and many additional elements must be considered before rolling out a new set of policy initiatives. Recently, the World Bank released a new strategy earlier this month that announced that their "value proposition" is to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to foster income growth among the poorest 40% in every country. It's a worthy goal and to achieve this, commentators like policy experts at The Economist have noted that they will need to correctly diagnose "the worst constraints on poverty reduction and focus mainly on those." Others have noted that the Bank will need to address problems with functional "silos" within the organization that keep experts on different regions of the world from communicating best practices and difficulties with each other.

The first link below will take users to a recent piece from last week's Economist on the World Bank's shift in their focus on alleviating poverty throughout the world. The second link will take curious visitors to a recent piece from Bloomberg News about World Bank President Jim Yong Kim's official announcement about their pledge to reduce global poverty. The third link will take visitors to a piece by development consultant Syed Mohammad Ali that offers comments on this recent major decision. The fourth link will take visitors to the official transcript from World Bank Vice President Sanjay Pradhan of his speech regarding the organization's new strategy for reducing poverty. The fifth link will whisk users away to the official World Bank Poverty page. Here, visitors can read more about specific initiatives around the world and also find more details about their long-term goals. The last link will take visitors to the complete World Bank data archive for information on poverty around the world.

Zen and the art of poverty reduction

World Bank President Pledges to Reduce Poverty in Half by 2020

Is the World bank reforming its approach?

A Solutions Partnership to End Poverty

Poverty Home: World Bank

World Bank Data: Poverty

The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013


Previous issues of The Scout Report (back to 1994)

Six Myths About Food Stamps
October 8, 2013
By Dave Johnson
In the middle of the worst economy and job situation in decades Republicans in the House voted to cut $40 billion from food stamps. This will kick 3.8 million people out of the program by 2014, then 3 million more each year after. Republicans in Congress have blocked every effort to help the economy. (...). In the months leading up to this vote, right-wing outlets such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, RedState and the rest of the far-right propaganda machine invented a number of justifications for cutting the program.

NOTE : The formal name of the food stamp program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
For more info, see Everything You Need to Know About the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the second link below)

Click the link above for a rebuttal of each of the following myths and lies.

Myth #1: Food stamps* are “growing exponentially” because of waste and fraud.
Myth #2: Cutting food stamps will make people get jobs because able-bodied people are getting food stamps instead of working.
Myth #3: Food stamps make people “dependent.”
Myth #4: Food stamps are about politicians “buying votes” with other people’s money.
Myth #5: Food stamp recipients take drugs.
Myth #6: People use food stamps to buy cigarettes and alcohol.
[ * Class project : in the text above, substitute the words "social assistance" for "food stamps".
Voila --- Six Myths about Social Assistance in Canada! ]

Moyers & Company


Everything You Need to Know About the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

(formerly known as the Food Stamp Program)
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)

The Simplest Explanation Of Obamacare. Ever. (video, duration 6:53)

From the
New York Times:

Getting Older, Growing Poorer
October 5, 2013
The basic outlines of poverty in America are sadly familiar. At last count, 46.5 million people were poor — 15 percent of the population. Women and children, especially in single-mother families, were, as always, hit hardest. Another group, people 65 and older, now seems vulnerable as well. In analyzing the recent Census Bureau report on poverty, researchers at the National Women’s Law Center found that from 2011 to 2012, the rate of extreme poverty rose by a statistically significant amount among those 65 and older, meaning that a growing number of them were living at or below 50 percent of the poverty line. In 2012, this was $11,011 a year for an older person living alone.


Free to Be Hungry
By Paul Krugman
September 22, 2013
The word “freedom” looms large in modern conservative rhetoric. Lobbying groups are given names like FreedomWorks; health reform is denounced not just for its cost but as an assault on, yes, freedom. Oh, and remember when we were supposed to refer to pommes frites as “freedom fries”?

The right’s definition of freedom, however, isn’t one that, say, F.D.R. would recognize. In particular, the third of his famous Four Freedoms — freedom from want — seems to have been turned on its head. Conservatives seem, in particular, to believe that freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat. Hence the war on food stamps, which House Republicans have just voted to cut sharply even while voting to increase farm subsidies.

174 comments about this article

Implementing Obamacare
Obamacare, the biggest change in the nation’s health-care system in decades, is upon us.
September 20, 2013
With the health-insurance marketplaces scheduled to open for enrollment Oct. 1, millions of Americans, and officials at all levels of government, are trying to figure out what the sweeping Affordable Care Act means for them.
On Jan. 1, the law goes into full effect.

NOTE : The link above is from the Washington Post's Politics Blog, where you'll find links to hundreds of Washington Post articles on Obamacare going back several years.

How states approached healthcare reform
July 3, 2013
[The recent] announcement that businesses employing fewer than 50 employees have until 2015 to offer workers health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marks another hurdle in the law, which 26 states challenged in court. This blog posting shows how the states have sided on some of the key provisions.

Washington Post

The Pay is Too Damn Low
By James Surowiecki
August 12, 2013
A few weeks ago, Washington, D.C., passed a living-wage bill designed to make Walmart pay its workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour. Then President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage (which is currently $7.25 an hour). McDonald’s was widely derided for releasing a budget to help its employees plan financially, since that only underscored how brutally hard it is to live on a McDonald’s wage. And last week fast-food workers across the country staged walkouts, calling for an increase in their pay to fifteen dollars an hour. Low-wage earners have long been the hardest workers to organize and the easiest to ignore. Now they’re front-page news.

The workers’ grievances are simple: low wages, few (if any) benefits, and little full-time work. In inflation-adjusted terms, the minimum wage, though higher than it was a decade ago, is still well below its 1968 peak (when it was worth about $10.70 an hour in today’s dollars), and it’s still poverty-level pay. To make matters worse, most fast-food and retail work is part time, and the weak job market has eroded what little bargaining power low-wage workers had: their earnings actually fell between 2009 and last year, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The New Yorker


- Go to the Minimum Wage / Living Wage Links page:

End food stamps, with a caveat
By Charles Lane
July 1, 2013
Congress is in an uproar over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) [ ], commonly known as food stamps. In the past half-decade, mostly because of the recession, enrollment grew to 21.1 million U.S. households — encompassing one-seventh of the population when you include children and other dependents — at a cost of $78 billion in fiscal 2011, according to the Department of Agriculture. House Republicans want to cut SNAP by at least $20?billion over the next decade, and Democrats want to preserve it pretty much as is. The dispute sent the 2013 farm bill — legislation in which SNAP has traditionally been twinned with subsidies for farmers — down to an unexpected defeat last month.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Abolish food stamps, on one condition: Congress would have to distribute the SNAP budget among other programs for the poor, for which many SNAP recipients also qualify.

Washington Post


- Go to the Food Banks and Hunger Links page:


'Welfare-To-Work' Program Linked To Higher Deaths: The transformation of
social welfare in the 1990's may have led to some deleterious health effects for some of the participants.
By Matthew Mientka
June 15, 2013
A new study tracking Floridians over a generation on welfare showed a half-percent increase in the death rate for those pushed toward work with imposed limitations on social welfare benefits following the "third way" political compromise in 1996 between President Bill Clinton and Congressional republicans. With rhetoric of replacing the "bigotry of soft expectations," the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act
[ ]
...supposedly "ended welfare as we know it," as Clinton famously put in his campaign promises.

[NOTE : You'll need a paid $ubscription to Health Affairs [ ] journal of health policy thought and research to access the full text.]

The Medical Daily

U.S. Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

On April 10, 2013, President Barack Obama sent his Budget for Fiscal Year 2014 to Congress for debate and approval.
For links to detailed information about the budget process in the U.S. and about the President's 2014 budget proposals, see:

Mapping for Results: The World Bank

The effective visual representation of key demographic data through the use of dynamic maps is a powerful tool for policymakers, journalists, and others. The World Bank developed such a program in 2010 as part of the Mapping for Results website. So far, their team has analyzed over 2,500 World Bank-financed projects and geo-coded more than 30,000 locations spanning 144 countries. Visitors can look over the featured articles on the homepage to get a flavor of the projects here, which include stories like "Mapping for Results Goes Local" and "Mapping the Financial Sector in Africa." Visitors can use the interactive map to view projects by country or indicator, which include population density, malnutrition, and infant mortality. Visitors can also learn about the Methodology deployed throughout the maps, which will be useful to those persons looking to understand the inner workings of this complex undertaking. Visitors can sign up to receive updates about the site via Twitter or RSS feed.

The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013

Twenty-three Percent of America Is Illiterate
February 13, 2013
Infographic showing that one in five Americans lacks the basic skills beyond a fourth-grade level.
[Figures are for 2003.]
- describes the three different types of literacy (prose - document - quantitative) and how many Americans have mastered each literacy level

Online Courses


How does that compare with Canadian literacy stats?

Canadian Literacy Facts & Research
- includes links to a collection of facts, statistics and myths about adult, family and workplace literacy.

ABC Life Literacy Canada

See also the
Canadian Literacy and Learning Network


How about other countries?

See The Official Source of Literacy Data:

UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)
UIS is the primary source for cross-nationally comparable statistics on education, science and technology, culture, and communication for more than 200 countries and territories.

NOTE : The above links also appear on the Social Statistics Links page of this website:

From the
New York Times

Prison and the Poverty Trap
By John Tierney
February 18, 2013
The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities.
Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.

Related link:

Incarceration in Fragile Families (PDF - 344K, 22 pages)
Fall 2010
By Christopher Wildeman and Bruce Western
Prison Studies Project
The Prison Studies Project (PSP) was launched in September 2008 at Harvard University to bring together a group of students, teachers and researchers with a shared interest in the American punishment system. PSP's Mission Statement: The Prison Studies Project promotes informed conversation about the challenges of mass incarceration through an interdisciplinary approach committed to education and policy change.

This Week in Poverty: Revealing the Real TANF
[Temporary Assistance to Needy Families]
By Greg Kaufmann
February 8, 2013
...the American people have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program created in 1996. Both parties tout it as a “success,” but if you look at the numbers—and at the real lives of people who turn to the program for assistance when they are out of work—the picture is bleak, to say the least.
Before welfare reform, for every 100 families with children in poverty in the US, 68 were able to access cash assistance; now that number has fallen to just 27.
[ For more detailed info, see ]

The Hidden Prosperity of the Poor
By Thomas B. Edsall
January 30
A concept promulgated by the right — the notion of the hidden prosperity of the poor — underpins the conservative take on the ongoing debate over rising inequality. The political right uses this concept to undermine the argument made by liberals that the increasingly unequal distribution of income poses a danger to the social fabric as well as to the American economy.
Redistributive conflict is the essence of politics, and ultimately the data debate – in effect, the debate over who should get what — will be resolved politically. All signals point to a fierce running battle over the coming years as the shape and direction of government tax and spending policies are decided. This is a fight that only shared economic growth can defuse. President Obama was wary of engaging this debate directly during his first term. Now, decisively re-elected, he appears to be girding for action. Republicans are defensive and ill-prepared. But as the abrupt emergence of anti-Obama, anti-Democratic sentiment in 2009 and 2010 demonstrated, the balance of partisan power remains highly volatile.

Meanwhile, beneath the political battleground, the presence in the United States of 42.6 million people officially living in poverty [ ] — no matter that they have access to a trickle of consumer goods — must be recognized as a powder keg.

395 comments about this article:

New York Times

Newest Publications from the
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP):

Basic Facts About Low-income Children
Fact Sheets, January 2013
Parental employment, parental education, family structure and other variables each play an important role in predicting the likelihood that a child will endure economic hardship. This NCCP series presents the facts and figures broken down into five age groups: Under Age 3, Under Age 6, Ages 6 to 11, Ages 12 to 17, and Children Under 18.

* Children Under 18 Years, 2011

* Children Aged 12 through 17 Years, 2011

* Children Under 6 Years, 2011

* Children Under 3 Years, 2011

* Children Aged 6 through 11 Years, 2011


NCCP Publications by Topic

National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is one of the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children.

Four new offerings from the January 4 (2013) weekly E-Newsletter
Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity:

[ ]
NOTE : Only the first link below is from Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.
The other three links are to outside sites, but they are featured in this weekly e-newsletter .


Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity:

Breaking Down Barriers to Build Assets
By Marybeth Foster (Iowa Credit Union Foundation)
January 2, 2013
Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs, were developed as a means to help low-income families develop financial assets. In 1993, Iowa was the first state in the nation to pass IDA legislation, ahead of 34 other states that eventually followed. Even so, 19 years later, IDAs are still not widely known or utilized in Iowa. Although IDAs are a proven strategy for asset development, they have not been deployed at a greater level in Iowa and nationally. This is due to the fact that they face challenges with sustainability and a lack of longitudinal evidence of their positive impact.
The barriers to IDAs are real, but our experiences have proven that they can be overcome. Making IDAs available not only encourages saving and financial literacy, it is a solid community and economic development tool, rural or urban, large or small.


Pew Research Center:

A Bipartisan Nation of Beneficiaries
By Paul Taylor et al.,
December 18, 2012
A new national survey by the finds that a majority of Americans (55%) have received government benefits from at least one of the six best-known federal entitlement programs. The survey also finds that most Democrats (60%) and Republicans (52%) say they have benefited from a major entitlement program at some point in their lives. So have nearly equal shares of selfidentifying conservatives (57%), liberals (53%) and moderates (53%).
Pew Research Center


From the
Heritage Foundation:

Improving Economic Mobility Through Increased Savings
HTML version :
PDF version (508K, 7 pages) :
By Diane Calmus
December 21, 2012
Since the recession began, Americans’ rate of savings has been on the rise. Yet too many still do not have savings to buffer them against an emergency.
This is especially true for low-income Americans, far too many of whom are just a medical bill or broken-down car away from financial ruin. Fortunately, our better understanding of the role of savings in mobility, together with interesting experiments and programs to foster savings, could enable us to make a significant difference in the accumulation of financial capital in poorer households. Innovative programs of the sort outlined in this
paper could engage Americans in setting aside money to plan for large purchases, unexpected emergencies, and retirement.

Heritage Foundation

From The Scout Report : Facebook In the News
(Week ending October 19)
In the wake of recent events, there are more concerns about Facebook's privacy settings.

Facebook users raise privacy concerns as company tweaks security settings

Three years, deleting your photos on Facebook now actually works

Three Facebook Privacy Loopholes

Facebook: Data Use Policy

The Brief History of Social Media

Once upon a time, if you wanted to learn something about someone you would have to ask face-to-face. Perhaps you could read about them in a newspaper or scan through an old school yearbook. Today, over 1 billion people use Facebook and their past, present, and future activities, likes, interests, and dislikes are avail! able for widespread public consumption, consideration, and dissection. Facebook and other social networking sites can be immensely valuable, but the balancing act between preserving one's privacy and sharing information with others is delicate as well as problematic. This week, there was more concern raised about Facebook's privacy settings and there was widespread confusion among users. This Monday, Facebook announced another dispatch about their vast range of privacy controls. This came after a variety of online rumors that Facebook was scanning private messages between users to equate conversation with page "likes" and several other pieces of related scuttlebutt made the rounds as well. As with most stories involved with online interactions, this story is very much in flux even at the time of this writing. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a bit of reporting from this Monday's Guardian that deals with some of the recent concerns raised about Facebook's privacy settings. The second link will take interested parties to a thoughtful piece that originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal about some very personal secrets that were inadvertently revealed via Facebook. The third link will take individuals to a good piece from Ars Technica about the ability to permanently delete one's photos from Facebook. The fourth link leads to a nice summary of three notable Facebook privacy loopholes, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal "Digits" blog. The fifth link will take users to Facebook's official data use policy in its entirety. Finally, the last link provides a nice summary history of social media, courtesy of Professor Anthony Curtis of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2012

Inequality and Its Perils:
Emerging research suggests that the growing gap between rich and poor
harms the U.S. economy by creating instability and suppressing growth.
By Jonathan Rauch
September 28, 2012
According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, those in the top 1 percent of households doubled their share of pretax income from 1979 to 2007; the bottom 80 percent saw their share fall. Worse, while the average income for the top 1 percent more than tripled (after inflation), the bottom 80 percent saw only feeble income growth, on the order of just 20 percent over nearly 30 years. The rising tide was raising a few boats hugely and most other boats not very much.
The era when Washington economists and politicians could dismiss inequality as a second- or third-tier issue may be ending. And progressives, potentially, have a case against inequality that might put accusations of “class warfare” and “politics of envy” behind them.

National Journal
Regarded as the most credible, objective, and authoritative voice in the Beltway, National Journal has been Washington’s premier source of nonpartisan insight on politics and policy for more than four decades.
[ About : ]


- Go to the Income and Wealth Inequality Links page:

The Poverty Tour 2.0: A Call to Conscience
September 11, 2012
Cornel West and Tavis Smiley want the issue addressed in the debates and on the next president’s agenda. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, hosts of the nationally syndicated public-radio program Smiley & West, remain as determined as ever to put the issue of poverty — which Smiley has called “the new slavery” — higher on the national agenda.

On “The Poverty Tour 2.0: A Call to Conscience” [ ], which kicks off Sept. 12 and includes stops in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania through Sept. 15, the two plan to host solution-generating town hall meetings that will broadcast live on multiple platforms. Families, community organizers, job cooperatives, elected officials, war veterans and religious leaders will be invited to participate.

Last fall (2011), Smiley and Cornel West hosted five episodes about poverty in a PBS special called The Poverty Tour.
Check out some of the site content at the link below.


The Poverty Tour - October 2011
With nearly 50 million Americans now living in poverty, “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience” was the focus of five special episodes in October 2011. Each episode was devoted to video highlights from Tavis’ August 2011 18-city, 11-state poverty bus tour with his co-host on PRI’s Smiley & West radio show, Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West. Following each night’s highlights from the tour, Tavis also spoke with a leading anti-poverty advocate, including Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West, Feeding America CEO Vicki B. Escarra, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, economist Jeffrey Sachs and ethics and religion commentator Jim Wallis.

Part 1 – “Suffering to Speak”
Part 2 – “I Had Everything”
Part 3 – “No Room at the Inn”
Part 4 – “Nothing Moves Without Us”
Part 5 –“The Fight of the Poor”

More selected site content:

What Does ‘Poverty’ Really Mean?
When we talk about the poverty rate or families living in poverty, what definition are we using for “poverty?” That depends on which government agency is providing the measure.

U.S. Poverty: A 10-Year Look
In 2010, 46.2 million people are living in poverty, the largest number in the 52 years for which the poverty rate has been published. Check out this interactive chart, which offers a look at the growth of the poverty rate in the past 10 years.

The Truth About Poverty
The poor, according to former labor secretary Robert Reich, "are regarded as people who are somehow different, either because they’re assumed to be Latin Americans or African Americans, or they are just assumed to be somewhat different." Watch the full conversation, where Reich explains why economically, America is almost two separate countries.

What You Can Do to End Poverty
According to Economist David Beckmann, the United States has persistent poverty because the political will to end poverty does not exist. Watch the conversation with Beckmann to learn what everyday Americans can do to tackle poverty in the U.S., and join the discussion.

U.S. Children Living in Poverty
As of 2009, almost 15 million children are living below the poverty line in the United States. Watch this sobering conversation with the President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and join the discussion.

The Poor are Losing the ‘Class War’
"The call for economic fairness may not be 'rotten economics' at all," says religion and ethics commentator Jim Wallis in this guest blog post, "but, in fact, rather good economics, as well as good morality."

Working Paper: The CEO Poverty Measure, 2005-2010
A Working Paper by the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity [CEO]
- (PDF - 3MB, 118 pages)
April 2012
This New York City Center for Economic Opportunity [CEO] working paper tracks the change in the poverty rate since the onset of the Great Recession. The paper explores the extent to which policy initiatives - including President Obama's stimulus programs and the City's effort to increase Food Stamp enrollment – offset the recession-related declines in earnings and alleviated what would otherwise have been a sharp spike in the City’s poverty rate.

Earlier editions of this report and
related research

NYC Center for Economic Opportunity
The Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) was established by New York City Mayor Bloomberg in December 2006 to implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City.

More info about the NYC CEO:

CEO Initiatives (PDF - 96K, 1 page):

Related links:

Poverty Measures - International Resources page:

Poverty in America : A Series by NPR (National Public Radio)
[ ]

The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity
June 6, 2012
by Joseph Stiglitz
America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents? Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.

This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1% of US income earners captured 93% of the income growth. Other inequality indicators – like wealth, health, and life expectancy – are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.

[ Joseph E. Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics who served on and later chaired President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and was Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He is currently a professor at Columbia University. ]

More commentaries by Joseph Stiglitz:

Project Syndicate
Project Syndicate brings original, engaging, and thought-provoking commentaries by esteemed leaders and thinkers from around the world to readers everywhere. By offering incisive perspectives on our changing world from those who are shaping its economics, politics, science, and culture, Project Syndicate has created an unrivaled venue for informed public debate.


- Go to the Income and Wealth Inequality Links page:

[U.S.] The Number of Those Working Past 65 Is at a Record High
By Floyd Norris
May 18, 2012
The retirement dream seems further away for a lot of baby boomers, and they appear to be responding to that by holding on to their jobs if they can. But that may have worsened the employment prospects for younger workers. Labor Department figures indicate that the percentage of workers over the traditional retirement age of 65 is at a record high. But, the figures show, job totals fell sharply for men under 55 during the recession and have only started to recover, while the proportion of women ages 25 to 54 with jobs also slid and is close to the lowest level of the last two decades. “The fact of the matter is that this aging-but-not-yet-aged segment of the baby boomer class can’t afford to retire,” said David A. Rosenberg, the chief economist of Gluskin Sheff, a Canadian firm, noting that overall household net worth was 15 percent lower than at the prerecession peak.
For the first time since the government began keeping track of the numbers in 1981 — and probably the first time ever — one in nine American men over the age of 75 was working in April. About one in 20 women over that age have jobs.

New York Times

The tattered safety net for the disabled
May 12, 2012
Most warnings about skyrocketing entitlement spending come accompanied by a day of reckoning far off in the future (though that day is coming closer). Not so in a little-noticed but fast-growing corner of Social Security: coverage for those with disabilities. The latest report from the Social Security trustees [ ] found that the costs of the disability insurance program, which provides coverage to 11 million disabled workers and dependents, would exceed the amount coming in from payroll taxes by the beginning of next year. The disability insurance trust fund is on track to run out of money completely in 2016.
Washington Post

Poverty In America: Defining The New Poor
April 22, 2012
Welfare changes in the 1990s helped slash cash benefit rolls, yet the use of food stamps is soaring today. About 15 percent of Americans use food stamps. The program has become what some call the new welfare. (...) More Americans depend on food assistance now than at any other time in modern history: 1 in 6 people, or almost 50 million Americans. (...) Food stamps have now replaced cash assistance as the most common form of welfare in America. Ten times more Americans receive food aid than those who get cash welfare.
NPR (formerly National Public Radio)

From the
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP):

Protecting the Safety Net in Tough Times : Lessons from the States
April 2012
By Curtis Skinner

Excerpt from the full report:

The Great Recession and its lingering aftermath has damaged state budgets to an extent unseen for decades, severely challenging states’ capacity to support critical social safety net programs. Fiscal year 2012 will mark the fourth consecutive year that states have confronted significant shortfall between revenues and expenditures. Over this period, states have confronted – and largely solved – a cumulative $510.5 billion in budget gaps. While the economy and the fiscal picture appear to be slowly improving, states continue to confront serious challenges.
This policy report offers a summary of the various approaches states are taking or propose taking to balance their budgets. We highlight revenue- and spending-side approaches that are protective of low-income families and endeavor to identify some best practices that other states might adopt. Finally, we seek to draw some lessons in fiscal management that may help states better weather future downturns without putting their most vulnerable populations at risk.

Complete report (PDF - 1.5MB, 24 pages)

National Center for Children in Poverty
The National Center for Children in Poverty is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children.


Antipoverty Tax Program Offers Relief, Though Often Temporary
By Sabrina Tavernise
April 17, 2012
(...) It is tax time, the season when the country’s largest antipoverty program, the earned income tax credit, plows billions of dollars into mailboxes and bank accounts of low-income working Americans (...) Nearly one in five filers now receive the credit — about 28 million returns in the 2010 tax year, the most recent year figures are available — representing the highest percentage since the program began in the 1970s, according to the Brookings Institution.

The effect has been significant. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group based in Washington, estimates the credit lifted about six million Americans out of poverty last year. (...) But the boost is often temporary. Many people who receive the credit fall back into poverty over the course of the year, caught in the same cycle of low-wage work and reliance on credit that put them there in the first place.

New York Times


Earned Income Tax Credit


Related link from the
Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament:

Scaling the Welfare Wall : Earned Income Tax Credits (2 pages)
By Sheena Starky
31 March 2006
[ PDF : ]

* Introduction
* The "Welfare Wall"
* Earned Income Tax Credits
* Conclusion
* Selected References and Links

I wanted to highlight this excerpt (below) from "The Welfare Wall", which offers a spot-on description of the perverse effects of the interaction between social assistance and personal income taxation in Canada, and how that interaction can create disincentives to work.

"Canadians who receive social assistance and subsequently accept low-paying employment face a series of consequences that could potentially make them worse off, including: higher income and payroll taxes; new work-related expenses such as transportation, clothing and childcare; reduced income support in the form of social assistance and income-tested refundable tax credits; and loss of in-kind benefits such as subsidized housing and prescription drugs."

Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament



From the
New York Times:

Obama Goes on Offensive Over Taxes on Wealthy
By Jackie Calmes
April 10, 2012
BOCA RATON, Fla. — All but certain now that his Republican opponent will be Mitt Romney, President Obama has made his proposed “Buffett Rule” minimum tax for the wealthiest Americans like Mr. Romney a centerpiece of his re-election campaign, defying the political risk of being seen as a tax-and-spender by wary voters. With a rousing speech on Tuesday to a receptive university audience of about 5,000 in this battleground state, Mr. Obama defined the coming contest as a clash of philosophies: His argument that tax fairness and the common good demand the richest Americans pay at least as much as middle-income taxpayers do, contrasted with Republicans’ opposition to any tax increases as job killers and class warfare, even at the cost of deep cuts in domestic programs.


Mr. Obama and the ‘Buffett Rule’
April 10, 2012
President Obama accomplished two things when he made the case on Tuesday for the so-called Buffett Rule, which would require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. He persuasively argued that it would be a step toward fairness in a tax code tilted in favor of the wealthiest Americans. Not incidentally, it allowed him to take an implicit shot at his virtually certain opponent, Mitt Romney, both personally and politically.
The Buffett Rule, which would raise an estimated $50 billion over 10 years, would not make an appreciable dent in the deficit or provide a lot more for essential programs. By comparison, letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for taxpayers making more than $250,000 a year, as the president has also called for, would raise $800 billion over 10 years. Mr. Obama must ensure that the Buffett Rule does not become a substitute for ending those tax cuts

New York Times

The Rich and the Rest of Us in America:

Welfare Limits Left Poor Adrift as Recession Hit
By Jason DeParle
April 7, 2012
PHOENIX — Perhaps no law in the past generation has drawn more praise than the drive to “end welfare as we know it,” which joined the late-’90s economic boom to send caseloads plunging, employment rates rising and officials of both parties hailing the virtues of tough love. But the distress of the last four years has added a cautionary postscript: much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.
New York Times

[U.S.] Poor who owe child support could lose federal benefits
By Daniel Wagner
February 26, 2012
Thousands of poor and disabled men stand to lose their only income next year because of a change in government policy that will allow states to seize every dollar of federal benefits from people who owe back child support. Previously, states could capture only 65 percent of benefits from people who opted to be paid by paper check. Advocates estimate that 275,000 men could be left destitute as a result of the change. The concern is an unintended consequence of the Treasury Department’s decision to pay all benefits electronically, including Social Security, disability and veterans’ benefits, starting next year. A separate Treasury Department rule, in place since May in a preliminary form, guarantees states the power to freeze the bank accounts of people who collect federal benefits and owe child support. By allowing seizure of the remaining 35 percent of benefits, the rules could cause thousands of poor men to lose their only income. (...) In many cases, the bills are decades old and the children long grown. Much of the money owed is interest and fees that add up when men are unable to pay because they are disabled, institutionalized or imprisoned.

Washington Post

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It
By Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff
February 11, 2012
NOTE: This article includes links to six short but compelling videos --- first-hand candid views about government entitlements.
Read the article first, then watch the videos.
Recommended viewing!

(...) As more middle-class families ... land in the safety net in Chisago and similar communities, anger at the government has increased alongside. Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.
Americans are divided about the way forward. Seventy percent of respondents to a recent New York Times poll said the government should raise taxes. Fifty-six percent supported cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Forty-four percent favored both.
Almost half of all Americans lived in households that received government benefits in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. The share climbed from 37.7 percent in 1998 to 44.5 percent in 2006, before the recession, to 48.5 percent in 2010. The trend reflects the expansion of the safety net. When the earned-income credit was introduced in 1975, eligibility was limited to households making the current equivalent of up to $26,997. In 2010, it was available to families making up to $49,317. The maximum payout, meanwhile, quadrupled on an inflation-adjusted basis.

New York Times

Also from the New York Times:

Interactive map
Where Americans Most Depend on Government Benefits:

A Comparison of Canadian and American Welfare Reforms and
their Effects on Poverty After 1990
(PDF - 10.7MB, 9 pages)
March 2009
By Fern Karsh
Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario
By Gilles:
This undergrad paper that I found in a Google search result is a large download, but welfare historians will find it an interesting read. It offers a brief history of the funding mechanism for federal contributions to provincial-territorial welfare programs from the (1966) Canada Assistance Plan to the 1990 "cap on CAP" to the 2006 Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). It also contains a section on welfare reforms in Ontario starting in the mid-1990s with the Mike Harris Tories. There's a section on welfare reform in the U.S during the same period, and a conclusion that the U.S. had "greater success (than Canada) in reducing welfare rolls, unemployment and poverty."

Not so fast.

You can't compare American and Canadian welfare systems, nor the relative success of welfare reforms in both countries, without the necessary context. Tempting as it may be to assume that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families in the U.S. and the Canada Social Transfer are pretty much the same thing - a mechanism to stream federal funding to the lower order of government - it would be incorrect to do so, for as host of reasons. Below, I'll adress only the caseload composition of both TANF and Canadian welfare programs.


Unlike the Canadian welfare system, state welfare programs under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)* initiative normally grant welfare ONLY to households with children, often headed by single mothers. They exclude all non-disabled single people and childless couples, who must apply instead to the national Food Stamp program and to residual aid programs where they live (if there are any such programs, which is not always the case). In Canada, singles and childless couples make up close to 60% of the total welfare caseload.

Moreover, state welfare programs receiving TANF funding exclude households headed by someone with a disability. In the U.S., people with disabilities must apply for assistance from the federal Social Security Disability program [ ]. In Canada, we have the contribution-based Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit [ ], but provincial-territorial welfare programs also provide needs-tested assistance to people with disabilities - who currently make up about 35-40% of the national welfare caseload.
* TANF is the federal transfer for state welfare programs, the U.S. equivalent to the Canada Social Transfer, which replaced the CHST in 2004. However, there are important differences between the two funding mechanisms in addition to the target population as noted above. For one thing, the federal government in the U.S. imposes a number of conditions on state welfare programs under TANF (e.g., targets for work participation and child poverty), while the Harper Government™ imposes only a non-residency rule on provincial welfare programs (i.e., eligibility for provincial welfare cannot be based on residency in a particular province). Also, welfare programs under TANF are only *one* of several programs in the U.S. that must be taken into account when comparing U.S. "welfare" with the Canadian system.

In Canada, welfare covers food, shelter, clothing an personal and household needs; in addition to health care coverage, which is universal in Canada, each Canadian jurisdiction offers a range of assistance for special medical needs under its welfare program. In order to compare Canadian and American welfare, the following American programs *must* be included:
* TANF welfare
* Medicaid
* SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps)
* Housing vouchers
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
* School lunch and breakfast programs
* Earned Income Tax Credit
NOTE: In the U.S. when a person or family times out of TANF welfare (between two and five years, depending on the state), they can still apply for some aid from the above programs and other state programs of last resort. If "timing out" were possible in Canada, individuals and families would have no other recourse. But there's no time limit on welfare in Canada ---- you can receive continue to receive welfare as long as you can prove financial need and you meet other eligibility requirements. The Government of British Columbia actually imposed a time limit in 2002 that was similar to what many U.S. states had adopted - two years eligibility for welfare out of five. For more info about this draconian Canadian (BC) welfare time limit policy and how it bombed, see:

For more information about TANF, see:

For more information about Canadian welfare programs under the Canada Social Transfer, see:

For more information about welfare and welfare reforms in Canada, see:

The Bottom Line:
Canadian and American welfare systems are like apples and oranges.
They shouldn't be compared without situating each system in its appropriate context.


For reasons NOT to compare welfare in Canada with welfare in the U.S., go the Welfare in Canada vs the U.S. page:

The Anti-Entitlement Strategy
By Thomas B. Edsall
December 25, 2011
[Republican leadership candidate] Mitt Romney wants to stigmatize most “safety net” spending – the array of social insurance programs from Medicare to food stamps to unemployment compensation to free school lunches — as a form of welfare that is “cultivating government dependence.” (...) Romney and his aides have designed his rhetoric to define pretty much all spending on entitlements, including provisions for the injured, unemployed, sick, disabled or elderly as benefits to the poor who, Romney implies, are undeserving. And it doesn’t matter whether the money to pay for these programs comes from employer and employee contributions and not just tax revenue — they are all under suspicion. In an op-ed published Dec. 19 in USA Today [ ], Romney described the 2012 election as a battle between the partisans of entitlement and the partisans of opportunity.
Polls conducted since 1972 by the General Social Survey show that by margins of two to one, voters consistently say too little is spent on the poor, on education, on health care, on drug treatment — the list is long. This internal conflict on the part of voters – opposed to welfare but supportive of programs for the poor — demonstrates how important it is for each side to frame the debate in terms favorable to its own cause — just what Romney is trying to do with his use of the catch phrase “entitlement society.” We are headed toward an ideological confrontation over the next 11 months of an intensity rarely seen in American political history.
[Author Thomas B. Edsall is a professor of journalism at Columbia University.]
Campaign Stops Blog
[ New York Times Opinion page ]

From the
U.S. Conference of Mayors:

Hunger and Homelessness Survey
A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities
A 29-City Survey
(PDF - 9.2MB, 107 pages)
December 2011

News Release
Joblessness leads to more hungry and homeless families in the U.S. cities (PDF - 192K, 3 pages)
December 15, 2011
Washington, D.C. – In the midst of a struggling economy and continuing high levels of unemployment, U.S. cities are feeling the pressure from increased numbers of hungry and homeless families according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) report on the status of Hunger and Homelessness in 29 cities in America (below) that was released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors on a news conference call.

U.S. Conference of Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.


From CBS News:

Census data : Half of U.S. poor or low income
December 15, 2011
WASHINGTON - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. The latest census data* depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.
(...) Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income. (...) A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

* "Latest Census data" refers to the release of the following report by the Census Bureau:
Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 (September 13, 2011)
NOTE : This link will take you to a section of the U.S. Government Links page of this website, where you'll find a link to the report itself, along with a collection of ~50 links to related fact sheets, NGO analysis of the report, media coverage, historical tables and much more

Related links from CBS News:

* New data shows poverty at an all-time high (Video, duration 2:33)
(Undated, likely September 2011)

* Poverty in America: The faces behind the figures
September 19, 2011

* Poverty continues to rise in U.S., now 15.1%
September 13, 2011

* Most U.S. unemployed no longer receive benefits
November 5, 2011

CBS News

From the
New York Times:

America’s Exploding Pipe Dream
By Charles M. Blow
October 28, 2011
We are slowly — and painfully — being forced to realize that we are no longer the America of our imaginations. Our greatness was not enshrined. Being a world leader is less about destiny than focused determination, and it is there that we have faltered. (...) We have not taken care of the least among us. We have allowed a revolting level of income inequality to develop. We have watched as millions of our fellow countrymen have fallen into poverty. And we have done a poor job of educating our children and now threaten to leave them a country that is a shell of its former self. We should be ashamed. Poor policies and poor choices have led to exceedingly poor outcomes. Our societal chickens have come home to roost. This was underscored in a report released on Thursday by the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation of Germany entitled Social Justice in the OECD — How Do the Member States Compare?[See the link to this report below] It analyzed some metrics of basic fairness and equality among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and ranked America among the ones at the bottom.


New York Times

From the
Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation (Germany)

Strong variations in Social Justice within the OECD
Bertelsmann Foundation publishes Social Justice Index for 31 OECD countries

News Item
October 27, 2011
Discrepancies in poverty prevention and fair access to education within the OECD are significant

US lags in all Areas of Social Justice
World's largest economy ranks 27th among 31 OECD nations

News Item
October 27, 2011
The United States may still lead the world in the size of its economy, but it performs poorly in a host of areas that make for a socially just country.
(...) Overall, the United States ranked 27th, ahead of only Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey.

The report:

Social Justice in the OECD — How Do the Member States Compare?
Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011
(PDF - 3.1MB, 56 pages)
Excerpt from "Key Findings" (page 6):
A cross-national comparison of social justice in the OECD shows considerable variation in the extent to which this principle is developed in these market-based democracies. According to the methodology applied in this study, Iceland and Norway are the most socially just countries. Turkey, which ranks among the bottom five in each of the six targeted dimensions, is the OECD’s least socially just country.
(...) Canada is the top performer among the non-European OECD states. Its high ranking can be attributed to strong results in the areas of education, labor market justice and social cohesion.

In this report, "social justice" includes:
* Poverty prevention
* Access to education
* Labor market inclusion
* Social cohesion and non-discrimination
* Health
* Intergenerational justice

Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation (Germany)
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is dedicated to serving the common good. Our work is based on the conviction that competition and civic engagement are essential for social progress.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity:

Spotlight on the States
50-State Resource Map Compiles Data,
Research, News and Policy Information

State and local governments, community-based organizations and other non-profits play a significant role in implementing policies and programs to reduce poverty and promote opportunity. Click the link above, then hover your mouse over a state to get a snapshot of poverty statistics in the state, then click or use the drop-down menu to access information and resources, news articles, and links to learn more about state efforts to reduce poverty.
- includes:
State poverty data and statistics: A compilation of data, including poverty, unemployment and asset poverty rates, and information on housing. Each data point links to
its source.
State policies: A listing of key state tax, asset-building and work support policies that help support low-income families; includes links to state or national organizations that track the issue.
Research: A compilation of relevant state research reports on issues related to poverty and opportunity.
News: A news feed of articles about poverty in a given state.

At a time when federal, state and local governments are seeking to reduce deficits by cutting programs for the needy, this resource provides vital up-to-date information for advocates, researchers, policymakers and foundations working to reduce poverty and promote opportunity.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity:
The Source for News, Ideas and Action

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: The Source for News, Ideas and Action is a non-partisan initiative that brings together diverse perspectives from the political, policy, advocacy and foundation communities to find genuine solutions to the economic hardship confronting millions of Americans. Through the ongoing exchange of ideas, research and data, Spotlight seeks to inform the policy debate about reducing poverty and increasing opportunity in the United States.

Oligarchy, American Style
By Paul Krugman
November 3, 2011
Inequality is back in the news, largely thanks to Occupy Wall Street, but with an assist from the Congressional Budget Office. And you know what that means: It’s time to roll out the obfuscators! Anyone who has tracked this issue over time knows what I mean. Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn’t really rising, or that it doesn’t matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated. (...) Some pundits are still trying to dismiss concerns about rising inequality as somehow foolish. But the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake.

[ More information about Paul Krugman + links to more of his articles ]

[ Definition of "oligarchy" from Wikipedia]

[ Comments (419) ]

New York Times

Falling Crime, Teeming Prisons
October 29, 2011
Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, has a smart proposal to create a bipartisan commission to review the nation’s troubled criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform. The National Criminal Justice Commission Act would be a valuable first step toward reducing crime as well as punishment. (...) The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, yet 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In the past generation, the imprisonment rate per capita in this country has multiplied by five. There are 2.3 million Americans in prisons and jails. Spending on prisons has reached $77 billion a year. (...) There are, however, ways to end this cycle of incarceration. This could be done by reducing sentences for nonviolent offenses, ending mandatory minimum sentences and cleaning up drug markets nationally.
New York Times

And, in Canada - WTF!

Bill C-10 will create the prisoners to fill Conservative prisons
October 25, 2011
Bill C-10 is a massive piece of legislation of roughly 100 pages that rolls nine laws from organized and drug crime, to pardons, to child sex offenders, to migrants entering Canada and young offenders into a single omnibus law.

Smaller Shelters and Persuasion Coax Homeless Off Bronx Streets
October 17, 2011
By Mosi Secret
Not far from the Major Deegan Expressway in the South Bronx is an abandoned subway platform where someone placed a plastic chair, a flimsy mattress and a nightstand. Nearby, in an old construction site, a truck trailer is lined with enough discarded furniture that it looks like a makeshift bedroom. But the homeless people who lived in these hovels are gone. Infusions of government money have revitalized many poorer neighborhoods in the Bronx, but the problem of people living on the streets has persisted. Now, though, a new strategy is showing surprising results: the number of single, homeless people in the borough has dropped roughly 80 percent since 2005, according to a recent estimate by the city.
New York Times

[ More NY Times articles about homelessness ]

Related links:

BronxWorks - Lifting Lives, Building Futures
BronxWorks has played the leading role in reducing street homelessness in the Bronx by 80%. BronxWorks helps individuals and families improve their economic and social well-being. From toddlers to seniors, we feed, shelter, teach, and support our neighbors to build a stronger community.

New York City Coalition for the Homeless
Coalition for the Homeless is the nation's oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. We are dedicated to the principle that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society.

Occupy Wall Street
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City[ based in Zuccotti Park, formerly "Liberty Plaza Park". The protest was originally called for by the Canadian activist group Adbusters. The action has been compared to the Arab Spring movement (particularly the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo, which initiated the 2011 Egyptian revolution) and the Spanish Indignants.
The participants of the event, who have called themselves the "99 percenters", are mainly protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns. By October 9, similar demonstrations had been held or were ongoing in 70 major cities and more than 600 communities.

We are the 99 percent
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

Occupy Wall St. is the unofficial de facto online resource for the ongoing protests happening on Wall Street. We are an affinity group committed to doing technical support work for resistance movements.

OCCUPY TOGETHER is an unofficial hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St.

The Occupy Protests - a Toronto Star special feature with news about the Canadian, U.S. and international Occupy movements

Occupy Canada Facebook page - In solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet, @OccupyToronto, and the countless other @Occupy movements across the world.

Coming soon to a
social assistance program near you?

Punishing Poverty
October 31, 2011
Being poor and needing public assistance is not a crime. Yet some states and cities, including New York City, are gratuitously inflicting punitive measures on people who seek government help. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed a new law in May that requires all applicants for the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to submit a urine sample and pass a drug test. Last week, a federal judge in Orlando temporarily enjoined enforcement of that intrusive policy on grounds it violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches.
New York Times

States Adding Drug Test as Hurdle for Welfare
By A. G. Sulzberger
October 10, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As more Americans turn to government programs for refuge from a merciless economy, a growing number are encountering a new price of admission to the social safety net: a urine sample. Policy makers in three dozen states this year proposed drug testing for people receiving benefits like welfare, unemployment assistance, job training, food stamps and public housing. Such laws, which proponents say ensure that tax dollars are not being misused and critics say reinforce stereotypes about the poor, have passed in states including Arizona, Indiana and Missouri.
New York Times

Drug testing coming to Canadian welfare programs?
Déja vu, all over again.
Does anyone from Ontario still remember ten years ago, when the Harris Tories held a province-wide consultation regarding mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants? In January 2001, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services John Baird (why does that name ring a bell?) stated: "Our government believes we must provide drug treatment, and it must be mandatory". The consultation wasn't about whether or not drug testing would happen - it had been part of the Tory platform in the 1999 election campaign. Baird moved on to another portfolio, the drug testing trial balloon didn't go any further and the Liberals won the 2003 provincial election.

Below, you can read a few of the submissions that the Ontario Government received in the course of the 2001 consultation.

Consultation on Mandatory
Drug Treatment for Welfare Recipients
(PDF - 40K, 5 pages)
February 6, 2001
Brief Submitted (to the Ontario Government)
by The Medical Reform Group of Ontario
During the 1999 election campaign, the Progressive Conservative Party's "Blueprint" document outlined a plan to test all welfare recipients in Ontario for drug use, based on an argument that drug use among welfare recipients constitutes a barrier to obtaining and maintaining employment. On November 14th 2000, John Baird, Minister of Community and Social Services, announced that the government of Ontario was seeking consultations regarding its plan to mandate drug testing of welfare
recipients. The Medical Reform Group of Ontario is responding to the invitation for consultations.

In addition to being in contravention to the Ontario Human Rights Code which considers addiction as a disability, mandatory testing and treatment of welfare recipients violates their constitutional rights, encourages base stereotypes, is of unproven efficacy, is unlikely to be more effective than voluntary testing, may be harmful, and will likely be a wasteful expenditure of public moneys.

The Medical Reform Group of Ontario
The Medical Reform Group of Ontario is a group of 200 practising physicians and medical students.


Science misapplied: mandatory addiction screening
and treatment for welfare recipients in Ontario
(PDF - 167K, 2 pages)
August 2001
The Ontario government plans to refer welfare recipients for a compulsory “professional, comprehensive assess ment” and to demand that some recipients attend outpatient programs for mandatory treatment as a condition of receiving benefits. Both diagnosis and treatment will require the involvement of physicians and both could occur under duress and coercion. Physicians, guided by professional ethics, will need to determine whether their allegiance is to the state or to the individual patient. The Board of Trustees of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has publicly opposed mandatory drug testing and treatment. Medical associations and professional regulatory bodies should follow its example and take a public stand against the Ontario government’s plan to force welfare recipients to undergo screening, assessment and treatment for addiction.
Canadian Medical Association


Mandatory Drug Testing and Treatment of Welfare Recipients Position Statement
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) does not support mandatory drug testing and treatment for people on welfare. Research has shown that drug testing has limited utility in confirming substance use problems and treatment needs. Such an approach would also serve to perpetuate the stigma associated with poverty and addiction and may lead to detrimental individual and social consequences. CAMH is also concerned about the ethical and legal implications of that infringement on the human rights of its patients and clients who are on welfare.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

More information on this initiative - this link takes you to a Google Search Results page with several relevant resources.

Community health centers hit hard by Washington deficit cuts
October 6, 2011
The applications poured in, spurred by millions of dollars in new funding included in the health law to expand primary care to the poor. A record 810 groups sought federal grants to staff and equip hundreds of new and existing community health centers. But in August, most were rejected, leaving advocates frustrated that they would not be able to serve the growing numbers of uninsured and poor people or be ready for an influx of patients under the health law.
Washington Post

Sesame Street’s newest Muppet is poor and hungry
New Sesame Street muppet Lily will be introduced in a one-hour primetime special on Oct. 9.
Iconic children's show Sesame Street has introduced a new character so young people can learn about the issues of poverty and hunger.
October 4, 2011
At a time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates nearly one in four American children – an estimated 17 million – may be going hungry, Sesame Street is introducing Lily, a new character who will highlight their plight.

BRAVO, Sesame Street!

The 10 best things government has done for us
By Rex Nutting
September 27, 2011
WASHINGTON— “The government is the problem,” they say. “The government can’t create jobs.” Or: “The government should just get out of the way.” How many times over the past three — or 30 — years have you heard conservatives (and even a few liberals) say that there’s no role for government in fixing our economy? They’re wrong, but this constant refrain is having an impact on our political system; it’s narrowing our options as we struggle with excessive unemployment, burdensome debt and wasted lives.

Related link
from MarketWatch:

Slide Show: What the U.S. government has given us
There’s plenty that private enterprise could never have provided
September 27, 2011
[ 114 Comments on this article ]

[ Wall Street Journal ]


Is there a Canadian version of this, you ask?

Ten Big Reasons to Feel Good About Taxes
[My favourite : "taxes are the price we pay for the Canada we love." Gilles]

96 more everyday reasons to feel good about taxes
- reasons like : governors-general - access to information - adoption records - critical infrastructure protection - airbag safety - fisheries - elections - pensions - money-minting - aviation museums - polar ice-watching - police college - social assistance - unemployment insurance - autopsies - ferries - bingo permits...

Related link:

Canada's Quiet Bargain:
The benefits of public spending
(PDF - 1.3MB, 40 pages)
April 2009
By Hugh Mackenzie and Richard Shillington
This study adds a dimension that has been missing to the public debate over taxes and public spending in Canada. It weighs the benefits of public services provided by federal, provincial, and municipal governments against the benefits of recent tax cuts.

Canadians for Tax Fairness
Canadians for Tax Fairness promotes a progressive tax system, based on ability to pay, to fund the public services and programs required to meet our social, economic and environmental needs.

SPENT (online "game") : Could YOU make it through the month on $1,000? - September 23
(MarketWatch - Wall Street Journal)

NOTE : Although this article and "game" are from the Wall Street Journal - which in itself is as shocking as the Conference Board of Canada decrying worsening income inequality in Canada - the concept is simple yet effective, and it applies to the U.S. as well as Canada and other countries.

Poverty isn’t just a game
Online game shows how tough it is without good options
September 23, 2011
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — You’ve lost your job. You’ve lost your house. You’re down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?
Jenny Nicholson is tired of hearing how the poor are poor because they make poor choices. Let’s see what kind of choices you make when it’s your turn to be flattened by the economy. That’s the idea behind Spent, an online game Nicholson created to challenge popular misconceptions about poverty. [Play it by clicking the link below.] So far, it’s been played more than a million times by people in 196 countries. And Nicholson is challenging every member of Congress to play it, too.
[ Wall Street Journal ]


SPENT - an interactive game that takes challenges participants to survive a typical month on $1,000 --- it's all about the choices you must make every day when you're living on the margin. The game took me about 10 minutes to finish, and I made it to day 30 before I ran out of money. I was reminded of an observation made by a presenter at a poverty conference a few years ago : "The money usually runs out before the month does."

Welfare reform law faces revision at 15
Safety net again under scrutiny on Hill

By Cheryl Wetzstein
August 21, 2011
Don’t expect much hoopla or cake-cutting as the landmark welfare reform law passed by President Clinton and congressional Republicans in the mid-1990s celebrates its 15th anniversary Monday. Even though the widely touted overhaul of the national safety net for the poor and unemployed has touched the lives of virtually every American family, the Obama administration and Congress are debating new changes to the system, and a temporary extension of the main welfare programs is likely again with another funding deadline looming Sept. 30. But another round of welfare reform is not being ignored on Capitol Hill. Both the House and Senate have had committee hearings, and in March, a group of House Republicans introduced a bill to begin “managing” welfare by requiring a public accounting of the costs of 70-plus federal anti-poverty programs
Washington Times

Economy still straining Social Security disability program
By Stephen Ohlemacher
August 21, 2011
Laid-off workers and aging baby boomers are flooding Social Security’s disability program with benefit claims, pushing the financially strapped system toward the brink of insolvency. Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs — in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs — and can’t find new ones. The stampede for benefits is adding to a growing backlog of applicants — many wait two years or more before their cases are resolved — and worsening the financial problems of a program that’s been running in the red for years.
Washington Post



Alarmist Stories Misportray Social Security Disability Insurance
August 23, 2011
Social Security’s disability-insurance program is forecast to run short of money in 2018, more than six years from now, and policymakers can plug the hole for several decades by reallocating some taxes from the related old-age program as they have done in the past. But that’s not the impression you’d get from some alarmist reports. “Social Security disability on verge of insolvency” blares a Fox News story, a theme echoed by other outlets [Washington Post ] - [ Washington Times ].
Here are the facts...
Off the Charts Blog - Policy insights beyond the numbers
[ Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ]
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Recently in
the New York Times:

An Unfair Burden [on the Poor]
June 24, 2011
For all of the economic hardship of the last several years, there was reason to hope that the nation could avoid a crushing increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. That hope is fading fast. In 2008, amid a deepening recession, a Census Bureau measure showed that the number of poor Americans rose by 1.7 million to nearly 47.5 million. In 2009, thanks in large part to the Obama stimulus, the rise in poverty was halted — a significant accomplishment at a time of worsening unemployment. When data for 2010 are released in the fall, poverty is expected to have stayed in check because the stimulus, including aid to states and bolstered unemployment benefits, was still in effect last year. This year and next are a different story. The stimulus is waning and Republicans are targeting poverty-fighting programs for deep cuts. Obama officials have said that low-income programs will not be automatically cut to fit a preconceived target from the debt-limit talks, but there is no guarantee they will stick to that position.



Polling Poverty... and Pessimism
June 25, 2011


How to Cut Child Poverty in Half
By Nancy Folbre
June 13, 2011
Cutting child poverty in half sounds like a magician’s trick, or some miracle of rapid economic growth. But Britain has used standard policy tools to reduce its child-poverty rate by more than half since 1994 and has effectively defended this progress against the pressures of the Great Recession. By contrast, the child poverty rate has trended upward in the United States since 2000, and children have proved economically vulnerable to increased unemployment. Most other rich countries rate higher on indicators of child well-being than either Britain or the United States. But we have more in common with Britain than most other countries, and rightfully pay closer attention to it.
[Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.]

New York Times

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
May 2011 issue of Vanity Fair
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
Vanity Fair - May 2011 issue
[ Vanity Fair - home page ]

The United States of Inequality
Trying to understand income inequality, the most profound change in American society in your lifetime.

By Timothy Noah
September 14, 2010
In the late 1970s, a half-century trend toward growing income equality reversed itself. Ever since, U.S. incomes have grown more unequal. Middle-class incomes stagnated while the top 1 percent's share of national income climbed to 24 percent. Middle-income workers no longer benefit from productivity increases, and upward mobility, long the saving grace of the American economy, has faltered. Why is this happening? In the following 10-part series, Slate's Timothy Noah weighs eight possible causes of what Princeton economist Paul Krugman has labeled the Great Divergence. This 30-year trend "may represent the most significant change in American society in your lifetime," Noah writes, "and it's not a change for the better."
[ NOTE : this series ran in Slate Magazine from September 3 to September 15, 2010. Click the link above to access each of the ten parts below. The series is also available as a single PDF file, which I don't recommend because the text contains many useful links to related resources that aren't clickable in the PDF version. Gilles]
Part 1 : Introducing the Great Divergence: Trying to understand income inequality.
Part 2 : The Usual Suspects Are Innocent: Neither race nor gender nor the breakdown of the American family created the Great Divergence.
Part 3 : Did Immigration Create the Great Divergence? Why we can't blame income inequality on the post-1965 immigration surge.
Part 4 : Did Computers Create Inequality? No. The tech boom's impact was no greater than that of previous technological upheavals during the 20th century.
Part 5 : Can We Blame Income Inequality on Republicans? Yes, but for the very richest beneficiaries the trend has been bipartisan.
Part 6 : The Great Divergence and the Death of Organized Labor: How has the decline of the union contributed to income inequality?
Part 7 : The Great Divergence and International Trade: Trade didn't create inequality, and then it did.
Part 8 : The Stinking Rich and the Great Divergence: Executive compensation took off in the 1980s and 1990s. Is it to blame?
Part 9 : How the Decline in K-12 Education Enriches College Graduates: When the workforce needed to be smarter, Americans got dumber.
Part 10 : Why we can't ignore growing income inequality: It undermines the ideal of e pluribus unum
Slate Magazine

Poverty and Recovery
January 18, 2011
In 2008, the first year of the Great Recession, the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 1.7 million to nearly 47.5 million. While hugely painful, that rise wasn’t surprising given the unraveling economy. What is surprising is that recent census data show that those poverty numbers held steady in 2009, even though job loss worsened significantly that year. (...) Clearly, the sheer scale of poverty — 15.7 percent of the country’s population — is unacceptable. But to keep millions more Americans from falling into poverty during a deep recession is a genuine accomplishment that holds a vital lesson: the safety net, fortified by stimulus, staved off an even more damaging crisis.

President Obama must explain to the American people that the country needs to continue relief and recovery efforts, especially programs to create jobs. Without that, tens of millions of Americans stuck in poverty will have little hope of climbing out — and many more could join their ranks.

[ Other Selected Editorials on Jobs and Unemployment (Series) ]

The New York Times

Who is poor? Many of America's neediest may look a lot like you
January 7, 2011
Americans fuss and fight over many aspects of public policy, from climate change to health care reform. But here’s something about which there’s not much argument: If you fall below the federal threshold for “poverty,” you are poor. You aren’t just needy or disadvantaged. At best, you hover somewhere between broke and destitute. (...) In addition to the numbers from the 2010 census, the Census Bureau has begun to publish reams of research that challenges its own methods. Determining the poverty threshold is one such topic. (...) Most striking is that people living in official poverty “have characteristics more similar to the total population.” People end up poor, it seems, even when they are trying their hardest not to. They can be pushed into poverty by paying to get to and from work, finding child care, keeping up with child support obligations, medical expenses and caring for children who are not their own. Who’s poor? More often than you’d think, people just like you.
Source: - the #1 St. Louis website

The United States of Inequality
Trying to understand income inequality, the most profound change in American society in your lifetime.

By Timothy Noah
September 14, 2010
In the late 1970s, a half-century trend toward growing income equality reversed itself. Ever since, U.S. incomes have grown more unequal. Middle-class incomes stagnated while the top 1 percent's share of national income climbed to 24 percent. Middle-income workers no longer benefit from productivity increases, and upward mobility, long the saving grace of the American economy, has faltered. Why is this happening? In the following 10-part series, Slate's Timothy Noah weighs eight possible causes of what Princeton economist Paul Krugman has labeled the Great Divergence. This 30-year trend "may represent the most significant change in American society in your lifetime," Noah writes, "and it's not a change for the better."
[ NOTE : this series ran in Slate Magazine from September 3 to September 15, 2010. Click the link above to access each of the ten parts below. The series is also available as a single PDF file, which I don't recommend because the text contains many useful links to related resources that aren't clickable in the PDF version. Gilles]

Part 1 : Introducing the Great Divergence: Trying to understand income inequality.
Part 2 : The Usual Suspects Are Innocent: Neither race nor gender nor the breakdown of the American family created the Great Divergence.
Part 3 : Did Immigration Create the Great Divergence? Why we can't blame income inequality on the post-1965 immigration surge.
Part 4 : Did Computers Create Inequality? No. The tech boom's impact was no greater than that of previous technological upheavals during the 20th century.
Part 5 : Can We Blame Income Inequality on Republicans? Yes, but for the very richest beneficiaries the trend has been bipartisan.
Part 6 : The Great Divergence and the Death of Organized Labor: How has the decline of the union contributed to income inequality?
Part 7 : The Great Divergence and International Trade: Trade didn't create inequality, and then it did.
Part 8 : The Stinking Rich and the Great Divergence: Executive compensation took off in the 1980s and 1990s. Is it to blame?
Part 9 : How the Decline in K-12 Education Enriches College Graduates: When the workforce needed to be smarter, Americans got dumber.
Part 10 : Why we can't ignore growing income inequality: It undermines the ideal of e pluribus unum
Slate Magazine

The 12 States Of America
Since 1980, income inequality has fractured the nation.

By Dante Chinni and James Gimpel
[Chinni and Gimpel are also co-authors of Our Patchwork Nation - see "Related link" below.]
Most stories about inequality in America miss an important point: rising disparities are not just about investment bankers versus auto workers. They’re about entire communities of “winners” and “losers.” And as these communities continue to diverge, the idea of “an American economy” looks more and more like an anachronism. We analyzed reams of demographic, economic, cultural, and political data to break the nation’s 3,141 counties into 12 statistically distinct “types of place.” When we look at family income over the past 30 years through that prism, the full picture of the income divide becomes clearer—and much starker.

Interactive Map: Income Inequality in the U.S.
Since 1980, income inequality has fractured the nation. Click the icons just above the map of the USA to see each of the dozen states*, which counties belong to them and how median income has changed from 1980 to 2009.
* "States" include : Moneyed Burbs - Minority Central - Military Bastions - Evangelical Epicenters - Tractor Country - Campus and Careers + six more states

The Atlantic Magazine : April 2011 issue

Related link:

Our Patchwork Nation
Co-authored by Dante Chinni and James Gimpel
Patchwork Nation is a reporting project of the Jefferson Institute that aims to explore what is happening in the United States by examining different kinds of communities over time. The effort divides America's 3,141 counties into 12 community types based on certain demographic characteristics, such as income level, racial composition, employment and religion. You can read about the methodology of the project on the methodology page.


It's the Inequality, Stupid
Eleven charts that explain everything that's wrong with America.

March 2011
A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.
NOTE: includes links to sources of all data used in the charts
Mother Jones, March/April 2011 issue
[ Mother Jones home page ]
Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting. We currently have two main "platforms": an award-winning bimonthly national magazine (circulation 240,000), and a website featuring new, original reporting 24-7.


From Stanford University:

Twenty Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know
Links to 20 graphics:
Wage Inequality * CEO pay * Wealth Inequality * Education Wage Premium * Gender Pay Gaps * Occupational Sex Segregation * Racial Gaps in Education * Racial Discrimination * Poverty * Residential Segregation * Health Insurance * Intragenerational Income Mobility * Bad Jobs * Discourage Workers * Homelessness * Intergenerational Income Mobility * Deregulation of the Labor Market * Job Losses * Immigrants and Inequality * Productivity and Real Income

See also:

Key Issues in Poverty & Inequality
- incl. links to online resources
organized under the following topics:
[NOTE : Only a few selected links are highlighted below.
To access links to all topics, click the Key Issues links above.]
* Children * Citizenship & Civil Rights * Conflict - War & Instability * Consumption & Lifestyles * Crime & the Legal System * Development Economics * Disabilities * Discrimination & Prejudice * Education * Elites * Environment * Gender * Globalization * Health & Mental Health * History of Inequality * Immigration * Income & Wealth * Labor Markets * Land - Housing & Homelessness * Lifecourse - Family & Demography * Measurement & Methodology * Organizations * Philosophy * Policy * Politics & Political Economy * Poverty * Public Opinion & Attitudes * Race & Ethnicity * Sexual Orientation * Social Class & Occupations * Social Mobility * Social Networks * Theory * Transportation * Future of Inequality

Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality
The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality has five objectives: to monitor trends in poverty and inequality, to support scientific analysis of poverty and inequality, to develop science-based policy on poverty and inequality, to disseminate data and research on poverty and inequality, and to train the next generation of scholars, policy analysts, and politicians
[ Stanford University ]

Gates Foundation pledges $500 million to help the poor save money
Co-chair Melinda Gates and others at a Seattle forum look into cellphone
banking in the developing world and other ways to help some of the world's
poorest families begin much-needed savings accounts.
November 17, 2010
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $500 million Tuesday to help create new banking systems that will reach into the world's most impoverished corners and allow families earning $2 a day or less to begin saving money. After years of promoting microcredit borrowing to help impoverished farmers and bottom-of-the-rung entrepreneurs expand their business opportunities, foundation leaders said it was increasingly apparent that saving, not just credit, is crucial to helping poor families weather crises, pay for schooling and make small investments to expand their incomes.
Los Angeles Times

- Go to the Asset-Based Social Policies Links page:
- Go to the National/Federal and International Anti-poverty Strategies and Campaigns page:

U.S. Department of Agriculture Report Outlines Food Access in America
Study Underscores the Important Role of Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs

News Release
November 15, 2010
USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon emphasized the results of an annual report released today by USDA's Economic Research Service that demonstrate that federal nutrition assistance food programs are providing a valuable safety net to the most vulnerable Americans. The report "Food Security in the United States 2009" found that 17.4 million households in America had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources, about the same as in 2008.

Household Food Security in the United States, 2009
By Mark Nord, Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson
November 2010
Report Summary - HTML
Complete report (PDF (685K, 68 pages)

Key Statistics and Graphs

Additional Resources

Food Security in the United States

Related media coverage:

Record Number of U.S. Households Face Hunger
By Pam Fessler
November 15, 2010
The number of Americans who struggled to get enough food last year remained at a record high, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 50 million Americans lived in households that had a hard time getting enough to eat at least at some point during 2009. That includes 17 million children, and at least a half-million of those children faced the direst conditions. They had inadequate diets, or even missed meals, because their families didn't have enough money for food.
NPR (National Public Radio)

[U.S.] Poverty in the news:

The 'Culture of Poverty' moves to the suburbs,
reviving old problems and generating new complications

Poverty in the suburbs: Mortgage or food
October 14, 2010

How Important Is Economic Diversity in Schools?
October 18, 2010

Poorest school districts get least-qualified teachers; affluent districts get the best, survey finds
October 18, 2010

A Culture of Poverty
October 20, 2010

Reconsidering the 'Culture of Poverty'
October 20, 2010

The Great Recession and Poverty in Metropolitan America
October 7, 2010

For much of America's history, urban areas contained the lion's share of the country's poor, an image reinforced by popular media depictions in film, television, and evening news reports. Recent news reports from the New York Times and The Economist would seem to indicate that suburban areas have larger numbers of poor people, and many are finding it hard to locate adequate social services, food banks, and other resources. This news drew on two new reports from the Brookings Institution, which found that the number of poor people in the suburbs has increased 37.4% over the past decade. Also, these findings come on the heels of a renewed discussion regarding the so-called "culture of poverty". When it was on the front page of policy discussions forty years ago, many politicians (including the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan) argued that there was in fact a unique set of cultural values and practices held by the poor that made it difficult, if not impossible, to make the transition out of poverty. As policy-makers continue to confront the shifting geography of poverty, all of these issues will require sustained conversation and significant soul-searching. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article from [the latest issue of] The Economist which reports on growing suburban poverty trends, with particular attention to the city of Freeport on Long Island. The second link leads to a related piece from National Public Radio which talks about the performance of low-income students in schools with greater economic diversity. The third link leads to a timely story from this Monday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram which talks about a study that shows that less affluent areas (and as a result, school districts) often have the least-qualified teachers. Moving on, visitors will find a thoughtful piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic where he ruminates on his own experiences with the culture of poverty and related matters. The fifth link leads to an excellent discussion on the culture of poverty with Patricia Cohen of the New York Times and Professor Sudhir Venkatesh of Columbia University. The final link leads to the two aforementioned reports from the Brookings Institution, and visitors with an interest in this type of social transformation will want to give both of them a closer look.
From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2010.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
TANF is due for reauthorization by the end of 2010. Urban Institute experts examine the effectiveness of TANF and provide evidence for future policy decisions.

Definition of TANF:
A federal block grant to states, territories and tribes to cover benefits, administration and services targeted to needy families with children. TANF emphasizes self sufficiency through work participation requirements, benefit time limits, and initiatives to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

The Urban Institute
The Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

The Canadian equivalent to TANF is the Canada Social Transfer.
Not really, though, because state welfare programs under TANF are quite different from those in Canada in terms of benefit levels, clientele, terms and conditions of welfare (max. 5 yrs in a lifetime) and much more. Read the blurb that I wrote to accompany the link to Eighth Annual Report on TANF to Congress (June 2009) for just a few reasons why the American welfare system shouldn't be compared with Canadian welfare programs.

Welfare Leavers in Colorado (PDF - 726K 87 pages)
Prepared by Sam Elkin et al
For the Colorado Department of Human Services
July 31, 2009

Selected key findings
The good news:
Only about one in ten individuals who stopped receiving cash assistance through Colorado Works returned to welfare.
The bad news:
Fifty-nine percent of leavers were receiving food stamps; about one-third were receiving some form of housing assistance; almost half of childless leavers had no public health insurance coverage (although 3/4 of parents had coverage for their kids)
Related link:
Colorado Department of Human Services
The Lewin Group
The Lewin Group is an Ingenix company. Ingenix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, was founded in 1996 to develop, acquire and integrate the world's best-in-class health care information technology capabilities. The Lewin Group operates with editorial independence and provides its clients with the very best expert and impartial health care and human services policy research and consulting services.

Also from The Lewin Group:

Welfare Time Limits: An Update on
State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families
(PDF - 1.3MB, 231 pages)
Prepared by Mary Farrell et al
For the U.S. Govt. Administration for Children and Families
April 2008
One of the most controversial features of the 1990s welfare reforms was the imposition of time limits on benefit receipt. The law prohibits states from using federal TANF funds to assist most families for more than 60 months. Under contract to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Lewin and MDRC conducted a comprehensive review of what has been learned about time limits. The review, which updates a 2002 study, includes analysis of administrative data reported by states to ACF, visits to several states, and a literature review. Key findings include the following: time-limit policies vary dramatically from state to state; nationally, at least a quarter million TANF cases have been closed due to reaching a time limit since 1996, although about one-third of these closures have occurred in New York, which continues to provide assistance through a state and locally funded program; and many of the families whose TANF cases were closed due to time limits are struggling financially and report being worse off than they were while on welfare.
Related link:
Administration for Children and Families
[ U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services ]

United States Health Care Reform
===> See the Health Links page
of this site:

1996 OECD international social assistance study:

- detailed comparison of how social assistance programs operated
in 24 OECD countries, including Canada and the United States (see Volume II)

Social Assistance in OECD Countries
Volume I : Synthesis Report
(PDF - 2.6MB, 207 pages)
A study carried out on behalf of the Department of Social Security and the OECD by the Social Policy Research Unit


Social Assistance in OECD Countries
Volume II : Country Reports
(PDF - 4.8MB, 499 pages)
A study carried out on behalf of the Department of Social Security and the OECD by the Social Policy Research Unit
By Tony Eardley, Jonathan Bradshaw, John Ditch, Ian Gough and Peter Whiteford

Participating countries:
* Australia * Greece * Norway * Austria * Iceland * Portugal * Belgium * Ireland * Spain * Canada * Italy * Sweden * Denmark * Japan * Switzerland * Finland * Luxembourg * Turkey * France * Netherlands * United States * Germany * New Zealand * United Kingdom

United Kingdom
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Going Dutch
How I learned to Love the European Welfare State
[taxation and social benefits in Holland]
By Russell Shorto
April 29, 2009
[An American expatriate's thoughts on Holland's 52% income tax rate and its health and social benefits]
"(...) Maybe we Americans have set up a false dichotomy. Over the course of the 20th century, American politics became entrenched in two positions, which remain fixed in many minds: the old left-wing idea of vast and direct government control of social welfare, and the right-wing determination to dismantle any advances toward it, privatize the system and leave people to their own devices. In Europe, meanwhile, the postwar cradle-to-grave idea of a welfare state gave way in the past few decades to some quite sophisticated mixing of public and private. And whether in health care, housing or the pension system (there actually is still a thriving pension system in the Netherlands, which covers about 80 percent of workers), the Dutch have proved to be particularly skilled at finding mixes that work."

New York Times

Welfare reform
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Movements in many countries around the world push for welfare reform. Sizeable and powerful reform movements exist in the United States of America, Canada, Great Britain, and France among many others.
- incl. the following : * United States * The Welfare System and reform in Great Britain * The Welfare System and reform in France * References * External links

The State of Health Insurance, 2008 * (24 pages)
Updated February 2008
"Our neighbors to the north have been able to spend the same amount of money administering free, universal coverage to its 27 million citizens as the single region of New England in the U.S. (which has a meager population of 2.5 million). Obviously, costs have gone haywire. Have the added costs provided more quality in health care? Or are these costs simply attributable to mismanagement and inefficiencies? Expect this issue to come up more during this year's election coverage."

*NOTE: Clicking the Download button on the home page takes you to a registration page where you must provide your first and last name, the state where you live and your email address, in order to download a free PDF copy of the complete (556K, 24 pages) report. If you have an aversion to giving out that kind of personal info, or if you don't live in the U.S., just make everything up. For example, I registered as Steve Harpie from New York, and my fictitious (but good enough to get me in..) email address was --- totally made up.

Insurance Research Organization - "Health insurance analysis you can trust"
National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)
"The National Association of Health Underwriters represents more than 20,000 licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals through more than 200 chapters across America. NAHU members service the health insurance needs of large and small employers as well as people seeking individual health insurance coverage."

NOTE: this 24-page report cites a number of credible sources in its analysis, but the organization itself doesn't show up in a Google search, nor does the report offer any information about the group's affiliation or its funding. There's no website as such for an American Insurance Research Organization, but strangely enough, the health insurance report has its own domain name (as if to avoid being tied in with any particular organization). Ironically, I can't find a single reference to this report or to the Insurance Research Organization on the NAHU website.

Social Safety Nets in the United States - Briefing Book (204K, 40 pages)
November 2003
"The book is arranged into eight chapters.
- The first three chapters cover the nature of the basic programs, the problems—especially poverty—that they are intended to alleviate, and major recent changes.
- The next three chapters focus on program administration, management, and implementation, discussing many of the detailed realities of how programs actually operate: These three chapters blend together facts and tools—what are the tools, how did they evolve, how are they used, what are the challenges, what works and what doesn’t, and under what circumstances. These are the issues which World Bank employees have to deal with regularly as they assist other nations to develop policies and programs.
- The seventh chapter focuses on the role of monitoring, performance measurement, and evaluation in helping to shape and manage programs.
- The last chapter is a chance to discuss the future of the welfare policy in US."
***Highly recommended overview of American social programs, especially welfare (from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" in the 1930s to date)

World Bank

(2006) Ten years after welfare reform in the U.S.

. A decade of welfare reform : Facts and figures, (PDF file - 47K, 6 pages) from The Urban Institute, Washington, June (2006).

. Getting on, staying on and getting off welfare : The complexity of state-by-state policy choices (PDF file - 203K, 8 pages) G. Rowe and L. Giannarelli, The Urban Institute, Washington, July (2006).

. Looking forward, looking back :Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of welfare reform (PDF file - 72K, 4 pages), N. K. Cauthen, National Center for Children in Poverty, New York, August (2006).

. The outcomes of 1996 welfare reform (PDF file - 117K, 12pages), R Haskings, The Brookings Institution, Washington, Testimony, House Ways and Means Committee, July (2006).

. TANF at 10 : Program results are more mixed than often understood (PDF file - 244K, 16pages), S. Parrott and A. Sherman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, August (2006).

. Ten years after welfare reform. It's time to make work work for families (PDF file - K, 2 pages), E. Ganzglass, Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, August (2006).

. Getting punched : The job and family clock : It's time for flexible work for workers of all wages, (PDF file - 159K, 32 pages) J. Levin-Epstein, Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, July (2006).

Council for Employment, Income and Social Cohesion - Paris
Conseil de l'emploi, des revenus et de la cohésion sociale - CERC[version française]

American Non-Governmental Organizations (M-Z)

MDRC (formerly Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation)
"...nonprofit, nonpartisan social policy research organization with headquarters in New York City and a regional office in Oakland, California"

Publications List
Publications organized by topic area and by research project within each area.

Sample reports:

Welfare Reform, Work, and Child Care
The Role of Informal Care in the Lives of Low-Income Women and Children

October 2003
"Analyzing rich data from in-depth ethnographic interviews conducted in Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, Next Generation researchers documented the challenges that low-income families face as they patch together a variety of arrangements to meet their child care needs. Unregulated or minimally regulated informal care typically plays a central role in these families’ patchworks of care, meeting some families’ needs very well but representing inadequate or unsafe arrangements of last resort for many others."
Related Link:
Next Generation - "...draws data and perspectives from 10 rigorous studies conducted by MDRC, including (...) Canada’s Self-Sufficiency Project."

Making Work Pay : How to Design and Implement Financial Work Supports
to Improve Family and Child Well-Being and Reduce Poverty
2002 How-To Guide Series
"When Congress reauthorizes the nation’s welfare policy in 2003, it is likely to require even more recipients to work and require them to work more hours per week. The use of the policies described in this guide can help states meet the new goals as well as reduce poverty and benefit children. Although most states are suffering severe budget shortfalls as this guide is published, Making Work Pay discusses ways to make earning supplements more efficient and less costly."
Full report (PDF file - 320K, 77 pages)

Leavers, Stayers, and Cyclers:An Analysis of the Welfare Caseload
November 2002
Full Report (PDF file - 210K, 68 pages)

Related Link:
Welfare Time Limits : State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families (July 2002)

NOTE: In Canada, only British Columbia has a time limit on welfare entitlement.
And it's toothless.

See the official blurb:
Time Limits : BC Employment and Assistance - brochure (eff. April 2002)
British Columbia's welfare time limits policy
Source : BC Ministry of Human Resources

Read about the context, history and ignominious end of this reprehensible experiment:

Go to the BC Welfare Time Limits Links page:

National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies : Moving People from Welfare to Work
Lessons from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS)

July 2002
"(...)The NEWWS programs generally did not increase income or reduce poverty. Indeed, some of the more disadvantaged program enrollees were made worse off financially."

Welfare Time Limits : State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families
July 2002
"[...]Time limits became a highly contentious issue in the debate about the 1996 federal welfare reform law, which imposed a 60-month lifetime cap on federal cash assistance but gave states broad flexibility to design time-limit policies. (...) Drawing from a survey of all 50 state welfare agencies, Welfare Time Limits shows that, to date, relatively few families have reached the federal time limit. A larger number of families have reached state time limits of fewer than 60 months, but many of the families who encountered these shorter limits were granted extensions. The report documents wide variations in states' implementation of the time limit and underscores how the strong economy of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which created job opportunities and filled state coffers, helped avert the limit's potential adverse fallout.]"
Executive Summary
Full Report (PDF file - 1769K, 205pages)

What Works in Welfare Reform: Evidence and Lessons to Guide TANF Reauthorization (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
June 14, 2002
"...brings together findings from 17 recent MDRC evaluations of welfare reform programs covering nearly a dozen years of field studies in a one-stop guide to the issues at the heart of the reauthorization debate. This guide explains how the three key welfare policy approaches - employment mandates, work incentives, and time limits - have affected poor families and government budgets. Readers will find evidence and analysis that raise implications for America's next welfare reform agenda."

How Welfare and Work Policies for Parents Affect Adolescents : A Synthesis of Research
May 2002
Full Report (PDF file - 1878K, 145 pages)

For more than 35 years, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has been known for its high-quality, objective research to support decisions about our nation's most pressing social policy problems. The firm has conducted some of the most important studies of health care, welfare, education, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs in the United States. This research, which crisscrosses the human life span from children's health and welfare to long-term care for elderly people, provides a sound foundation for decisions that affect the well-being of Americans.
- incl. links to : Education - Labor - Health - Disability - Welfare - Nutrition - Early Childhood - Surveys

News from Mathematica:
A Semimonthly Update on New Publications, Presentations, and Other Developments
October 10, 2006
In This Issue:
(click the link above to access the articles below)
* TANF at 10: A Look at Policies in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
* Medicare Advantage: Changes in the Market in 2006
* Two New Briefs Released on Special Care for Special Kids:
—Profile of Those Enrolled in Commercial Plans
—Prescription Drug Costs for Children in These Plans
*Beyond Test Scores: New Brief Looks at Student Competencies
* Career Opportunities at Mathematica

News From Mathematica
A Semi-monthly Update on New Publications, Presentations, and Other Developments
- June 28, 2006
In this Issue: Welfare-to-Work Resources
In light of changes being made at the federal level to welfare-to-work requirements, this issue reviews recent publications by Mathematica staff that can inform related discussions.
- incl. Employment-Related Issues - Hard to Employ - Strengthening Families - Fatherhood - Child Care - Housing, Sanctions, and Other Topics

Related Link:

Welfare Policy Research

Characteristics of Food Stamp Households: Fiscal Year 2002
December 2003
Mathematica Policy Research

Related Link from the U.S. government:

Household Food Security in the United States, 2002
October 2003
Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report
- based on data from the December 2002 food security survey
Summary of Study Findings (PDF file - 73K, 2 pages)
Table of contents + links to all chapters and appendices
Complete report (PDF file - 421K, 58 pages)
Economic Research Service
[ U.S. Department of Agriculture ]

What's Happening to TANF Leavers Who Are Not Employed? (PDF file - 234K, 4 pages)
(based on Mathematica's comprehensive evaluation of Work First New Jersey)
October 2003
"During much of the four- to five-year follow-up period for the study, about one in four in this early group of TANF recipients was off welfare and not working in a given month, similar to findings from other states one of five distinct groups.(...) [T]hose off TANF and not working are of particular concern to policymakers because it is unclear how these individuals are
supporting themselves."

More Findings from Work First New Jersey

The Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program - August 2002 (PDF file - 474K, 151pages)
- describes service delivery in 11 sites, noting that most sites offered multiple programs and had complex organizational structures
- "Potentially promising strategies included extensive involvement of nonprofit organizations, collaboration with employers, transitional work activities, and intensive complementary services for the hardest-to-employ. The report concludes that carefully designed programs can reach populations with serious employment problems through systematic outreach and recruitment and a comprehensive package of services."

New Reports from Mathematica® Detail the Costs of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program and Implementation Progress
Press Release
September 12, 2002
"PRINCETON, N.J. —The plummeting welfare rolls of the late 1990s were good news to state and federal policymakers. However, the daunting task of helping individuals with the greatest barriers to employment remains an ongoing challenge. (...) Two new reports from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., provide the latest update on the operations of welfare-to-work initiatives funded by the U.S. Department of Labor."

Understanding the Costs of the DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Program - August 2002 (PDF file - 645K, 136 pages)
- examines the costs of 18 selected programs with different service locations, target populations, and service emphases.
- incl.job readiness classes; intake, assessment, and preemployment case management; job development and placement; and postplacement followup. The report concludes that future programs focusing on the hard to employ could cost as much as, or more than, welfare to work.

Bowling for Columbine - a movie by Michael Moore
I don't generally offer gratuitous reviews of movies that I watch, but this movie about gun control in the U.S. is relevant to social justice and human rights. I recommend this movie, although the faint-hearted are forewarned that there are some graphic scenes of death by firearm.

Bowling for Columbine is about the April 1999 Columbine High School shooting (13 dead, 25 injured), Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association, a six-year-old Michigan schoolboy shooting and killing his six-year-old classmate, American military interventions around the world, U.S. bombing in Kosovo, the U.S. town where citizens are required by law to have a gun, and much more...
Related links:
- --- go there for more links to the movie and other irreverent work by Michael Moore. Luv ya, Michael...


Michael Moore and National Health Care: Lies of the Left and the Right
Posted August 7, 2007
In Moore's film the first president Bush is seen dismissing the idea of socialized medicine, remarking that if you think it could work, "Ask a Canadian." The fact is that while many Canadians have criticisms of their health care system, almost none would choose a U.S.-style, for-profit system. They would laugh at the idea that it would work better for them.
Huffington Post (U.S.)

Related links:

SiCKO - the official movie website - includes "SiCKO Factual Backup"

SiCKO - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - News and Resources for the Skeptical Citizen
- Mother Jones 400 (March 5, 2001) --- Using data from the Federal Election Commission which was compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Mother Jones has put together an eye-opening Website which reveals the nation's top 400 financial political contributors and what they may be expecting for their contributions.
Source : Excerpt from a review by The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002

Mystifying Data: Can America's Promise Get Away with It?
July 1999
From Energize, Inc. - "especially for leaders of volunteers"

Moving Ideas (U.S.)
News and Resources from the Policy Action Network (formerly the Electronic Policy Network)
"The Policy Action Network is dedicated to explaining and popularizing complex policy ideas to a broader audience. Our goal is to improve collaboration and dialogue between policy and grassroots organizations, and to promote their work to journalists and legislators. (...) Moving Ideas posts the best ideas and resources from leading progressive research and advocacy institutions, as well as promotes high-quality websites and publishes original content. We hope to strengthen democratic participation by providing a more inclusive and intelligible debate about the issues that shape our world."
Link Library - large collection of annotated links under the following categories : Alternative News Sources - Building Democracy - Criminal Justice - The Economy - Education - Energy and the Environment - Families, Children, and Youth - Foreign Policy and Defense - Gay Issues - Gender - Globalization, Immigration, and Trade - Health Care Policy - International Policy Resources - Media Old & New - Poverty, Income, and Wealth - Public Policy Programs & Political Science Departments - Race - Rights and Liberties - Science and Culture - Social Security and Aging - Welfare & Families - Working America - Urban Issues/Livable Cities.

Sample content:

Welfare Wars: In Brief
"Those who support the welfare reform law have pointed to the more than 50 percent reduction in the welfare rolls -- from 12.2 million in 1996 to 5.5 million in March 2001. But many of the families leaving welfare aren't leaving poverty. In 1999, 41 percent of former welfare recipients were poor, and 64 percent of parents who had left welfare for work found themselves struggling to support their families on a median hourly wage of $7.15."

Source : Shaping the Debate

From MyWay (U.S. News portal):

[U.S.] Welfare State Growing Despite Overhauls
February 26, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) - The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid. The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees. (...) Critics of the welfare overhaul say the numbers offer fresh evidence that few former recipients have become self-sufficient, even though millions have moved from welfare to work. They say the vast majority have been forced into low-paying jobs without benefits and few opportunities to advance. (...) In 2005, about 5.1 million people received monthly welfare payments from TANF and similar state programs, a 60 percent drop from a decade before. But other government programs grew, offsetting the declines. About 44 million people - nearly one in six in the country - relied on government services for the poor in 2003, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the Census Bureau. That compares with about 39 million in 1996. Also, the number of people getting government aid continues to increase, according to more recent enrollment figures from individual programs. Medicaid rolls alone topped 45 million people in 2005, pushed up in part by rising health care costs and fewer employers offering benefits. Nearly 26 million people a month received food stamps that year. Cash welfare recipients, by comparison, peaked at 14.2 million people in 1994.

Related links:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program - Fact Sheet - brief summary of TANF
TANF Seventh Annual Report to Congress (December 2006) - data about welfare caseloads, family employment and earnings, marriage and two-parent families, out-of-wedlock births, and State policy choices
TANF statute:
H.R. 3734 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
TANF final regulations:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF); Final Rule
Policy Q's and A's
Policy documents - incl. policy announcements, program instructions and information memoranda
Food stamp program
Supplemental Security Income


See also:

June 28, 2006
TANF Regs: A Big Step Backwards (and a Red Herring)
The Thicket
A Bipartisan Blog by and for Legislative Junkies

National Academies

America's Underinsured: A Closer Look
This new "Web extra" from the National Academies covers the uninsured and underinsured in the United States. Currently about 40 million Americans are not covered by health insurance, more than the combined populations of Connecticut, Texas, and Florida, according to the site, and 80 percent of these are employed or are members of working families. The heart of the site is the new publication from the National Academy Press (NAP), _Coverage Matters: Insurance and Health Care_. The report, the first in a series by the Institute of Medicine, argues that public policy is more crucial than the state of the economy in decreasing the number of uninsured and underinsured citizens. In addition to a press release and a link to _Coverage Matters_, the site features a number of articles, including "A Portrait of the Uninsured," "Where to Find Help," and "The Myths and Realities." Hyperlinks throughout the articles lead to more information off- site.
Reviewed by The Scout Report (October 19, 2001)
Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2001

National Academy Press - ("Read over 20,000 books online free!")
Click on "Browse Categories" to see titles in over 25 categories, from Agriculture to Urban Development.
Here are a few samples that you can either purchase in hard copy or read online free :

Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition
2001 - 268 pages
Panel on Data and Methods for Measuring the Effects of Changes in Social Welfare Programs
Committee on National Statistics, National Research Council
Read it Online

Measuring Poverty: A New Approach
1995 - 536 pages
Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance: Concepts, Information Needs, and Measurement Methods
Committee on National Statistics, National Research Council
Read it Online

National Alliance to End Homelessness (US)
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nationwide federation of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that demonstrates this every day, one person or one family at a time. Working together, the Alliance members form a powerful network of concerned individuals and organizations advancing practical, realistic, community-based solutions that build a better future for generations to come.

Selected site content:

States cope with rising homelessness (U.S.)
March 18, 2009
By Christine Vestal
Nearly 700 homeless families in Massachusetts are living in hotels at state expense because emergency shelters are full. New York City saw a 40 percent rise in families seeking shelter since the recession began. School districts nationwide reported more homeless kids in the fall of 2008 than the entire year before. And tent cities have sprung up throughout Hawaii and in Sacramento, Calif., Reno, Nev., Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and other cities. (...) State officials are seeing levels of homelessness they have never seen before. President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package includes $1.5 billion to address the problem, but officials say it’s not enough to cover the cost of housing for millions of families in crisis. As many as 3.4 million Americans are likely to experience homelessness this year – a 35 percent increase since the recession started in December 2007 – and a majority will be families with children, according to a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The predictions are based on rising levels of unemployment and poverty, plus a severe shortage of affordable housing created, in part, by the mortgage industry collapse.
Source: is a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news site that practices journalism in the public interest by reporting on emerging trends and issues in state policy and politics.

Related links:

Homelessness Counts:
Changes in Homelessness from 2005 to 2007

12 January 2009


First Nationwide Estimate of Homeless Population in a Decade Announced:
Approximately 744,313 people homeless on a single night.
News Release
January 11, 2007
Washington—There were 744,313 people homeless in January 2005 according to Homelessness Counts, the first national assessment of the number of homeless people in over a decade. The report was released today by the Homelessness Research Institute of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. This estimate, a compilation of point-in-time counts collected by local Continuums of Care, provides data on every state and community in the country.

Complete report:

Homelessness Counts (PDF | 1.51 MB | 48 pages)
Homelessness Counts-Appendix B Methodology Supplement (PDF | 84 KB | 2 pages)
Homelessness Counts-Appendix B Supplement 1 (PDF | 93 KB | 48 pages)
Homelessness Counts-Appendix B Supplement 2 (PDF | 79 KB | 20 pages)

Related Link:

Of 744,000 homeless estimated in US, 41 percent are in families
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press
January 11, 2007
WASHINGTON -- There were 744,000 homeless people in the United States in 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade. A little more than half were living in shelters, and nearly a quarter were chronically homeless, according to the report yesterday by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an advocacy group.
Boston Globe

National Center for Policy Analysis
The NCPA is a nonprofit public policy research institute. (...) The NCPA depends entirely on the financial support of individuals, corporations and foundations who believe in private sector solutions to public policy problems.

The Welfare Law Center


The LINC* Project
(*Low Income Networking and Communications)
New York
"LINC Project is the electronic crossroads where the members, leaders, and organizers of low income organizations confronting the shredding of our social safety net can connect, gather and exchange information and have their organizing efforts represented"


The Drudge Report

National Center for Children in Poverty (Columbia University Health Sciences, New York)
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children.
Check out this comprehensive, current and HUGE collection of information on child poverty in the US
- includes: Media Resources - Newsletters - Child Poverty Facts - State & Local Info - Child Care & Early Ed. - Family Support -  Welfare Reform - Research Forum -  Publications - Feedback and more

Sample reports:

Asset Poverty and Debt Among Families with Children
By Yumiko Aratani and Michelle Chau
February 2010
HTML version
PDF versio
n (783K, 12 pages)
Increasingly the significance of asset ownership among low-income families is being recognized. Assets such as savings and homeownership are vital components of a family’s economic security, along with income and human and social capital. In this report, we use the term “assets” to refer to financial and economic resources, not including human capital. Unlike labor market earnings, income generated from assets provides a cushion for families in case of job loss, illness, death of a parent, or even natural disaster. This cushion may be especially important for the working poor, whose economic lives can be severely impacted by even short periods of unemployment. Asset ownership can also have long-term consequences for children...

Summary of Main Findings:

* More than half of American families with children are asset poor based on their financial assets, and in particular, more than two-thirds of African-American families and female-headed families are asset poor.
* The percent of families with debt is increasing.
* Approximately a half or more poor families with children (under 100 percent of FPL) are experiencing debt hardship.
* Less than half of poor families with children (income under 100 percent of FPL) own a bank account.


UPDATE - National Center for Children in Poverty
August 21, 2008

Staying Afloat in Tough Times: What States Are and Aren't
Doing to Promote Family Economic Security

August 2008
News Release (PDF - 115K, 2 pages)
Complete report (PDF - 3.1MB, 24 pages)
Excerpt and related links (HTML)
This report tracks state-level policies that help families both avoid and cope with economic hardship. Three categories of policies are examined: work attachment and advancement, income adequacy, and asset development and protection. Although over the last decade states have taken the lead in policy efforts to help low-income families, this study demonstrates that assistance is extraordinarily uneven across the states. The authors conclude that America needs a national vision of family economic security - and the leadership to implement it.

Demographics of Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care in the United States
August 2008
Complete brief:
HTML version===> incl. links to two dozen references
PDF version (PDF - 502K, 10 pages)
Literature Review (PDF - 522K, 18 pages)
While there are still many unanswered questions about family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers, users of such care, and factors affecting those usage patterns, a few themes have emerged: FFN care-giving is common in all kinds of families; patterns of use vary by features of the families and children and caregivers; and there are notable state variations in FFN populations, in part reflecting state policies. This brief and accompanying literature review point out a need to clarify the definition of FFN care and help us understand its role and impact on the lives of families, children and communities.



On August 26/08, the U.S. Census Bureau will release data on poverty and family income for 2007.
In anticipation of these new data, NCCP offers the following resources that may be helpful for talking about the numbers:

Ten Important Questions About Child Poverty and Family Economic Hardship
May 2008
HTML version
PDF version
(592K, 20 pages)

Statement on Establishing a Modern Poverty Measure
(submitted for congressional hearing held July 17, 2008)
HTML version
PDF version
(186K, 6 pages)

Measuring Poverty in the United States
June 2008
HTML version
PDF version - 108K, 4 pages)

50-State Demographics Wizard
Use the Demographics Wizard to create custom tables of national- and state-level statistics about low-income or poor children. Choose areas of interest, such as parental education, parental employment, marital status, and race/ethnicity—among many other variables.

National Center for Children in Poverty

Related link:

By Arloc Sherman and Robert Greenstein
On Tuesday, August 26, the Census Bureau will release annual figures on poverty, income, and health insurance rates for 2007. This analysis provides a guide to what to look for in the income and poverty numbers, and how to assess whether economic growth is reaching low- and middle-income families.
HTML version
PDF version
(3 pages)

[ more poverty & income resources from CBPP ]

Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)


State policies Ignore Research on Healthy Child Development:
Leading National Organization Releases Report on Policies for Young Children
(PDF file - 45K, 2 pages)
News Release
May 16, 2007
NEW YORK– In advance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s summit on early childhood development, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), has released a new report, State Early Childhood Polices: Improving the Odds. The study finds unevenness and deficiencies across the 50 states in policies that affect the well-being and development of young children.

State Early Childhood Policies
Helene Stebbins and Jane Knitzer
June 2007
Executive Summary - HTML
Complete report (PDF file - 852K, 27 pages)
National Profile (PDF file - 418K, 6 pages)
Full Set of State Profiles (PDF file - 852K, 27 pages)
State Early Childhood Policy Profiles - HTML

December 14, 2006 Update
As 2006 draws to a close, many are predicting that the economy in 2007 will be shaky at best.
Unfortunately, Who Are America's Poor Children? The Official Story reveals that nearly 13 million children already live in families with income below the official poverty measure. Worse, it is widely agreed that the poverty measure understates the true extent of economic hardship.


NCCP's new fact sheet finds that 18% of children live in families that are officially considered poor.
Who Are America's Poor Children? The Official Story
- describes the characteristics of children who are officially poor and identifies public policy strategies for improving the well-being of children and families.
Key findings include:
* Across the states, child poverty rates range from 7% in New Hampshire to 27% in Mississippi.
* Poverty is especially prevalent among black, Latino, and American Indian children.
* Official poverty rates are highest for young children.
Read the fact sheet

Subscribe to NCCP Update
- provides subscribers with periodic mailings (once or twice a month) on our new publications, research activities, and online tools.
To see our past mailings, check out the archive (14 previous issues as at Dec. 17/06).

Struggling Despite Hard Work:
Low-Income Families in Michigan and Detroit

Fact Sheet
November 2006
(189K, 4 pages)
More than a third of Michigan's children live in low-income families. This fact sheet looks at employment and the use of work support benefits among low-income families in Michigan as a whole and also in Detroit. It finds that most low-income children have employed parents, but many families do not receive the work supports that can close the gap between resources and expenses.

NOTE: use the NCCP's Family Resource Simulator (the next link below) to see how much parents in Michigan need to earn to cover basic expenses, taking work support policies into account. The Simulator shows that for a two-parent family of four living in Detroit, it takes earnings of nearly $40,000 a year--twice the poverty level--to afford basic necessities.

Family Resource Simulator (FRS)
The Family Resource Simulator is an interactive web-based tool that calculates family resources and expenses as earnings increase, taking public benefits into account. The user “creates” a hypothetical family by making choices about: city and state, family characteristics, income sources, assets, and debt. The user also selects which public benefits the family receives when eligible and decides what happens when the family loses benefits (e.g., does the family seek cheaper child care after losing a subsidy?). The result is a series of graphs that show the impact of public benefits on family resources and basic family expenses as earnings rise.
[As at November 17, the FRS is available for twelve states and 50 localities, with plans to keep expanding.]
The Family Resource Simulator is part of NCCP’s Making “Work Supports” Work initiative, which examines the current patchwork of federal and state programs that assist low-wage workers and their families and explores policy alternatives.
FRS User Guide Pop-up - explains how the FRS works in more detail

Making “Work Supports” Work - incl. links to Publications - Partners - Related Link

Economic Insecurity: Implications of Federal Budget proposals for Low-Income Working Families - U.S.
April 2005
"Despite the fact that nearly 15 million children in this country have a parent who works full time yet can't afford basic necessities, federal budget proposals put forth by President Bush and the U.S. Congress call for dramatic cuts to programs that assist low-income families. NCCP's new policy brief uses our Family Resource Simulator to show how proposed cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, and child care will affect families' ability to make ends meet. Using examples from four major U.S. cities, this brief illustrates the kinds of effects we can expect nationwide if proposed benefit cuts are implemented.

- Read the policy brief:

- Read the press release:

Columbia Research Group Warns Against Ignoring Children in Social Security Debate
News Release
February 24, 2005
"Social Security is the single largest support program for children in the United States Although Social Security is the single largest program that provides support to American children, the debate over privatization has focused almost entirely on changes in benefits for retirees. (...) While it is true that retirees and their spouses are the largest block of beneficiaries from the program, over 5 million children in the United States benefit from Social Security, either directly as beneficiaries or indirectly as members of households that receive a monthly Social Security check. Of the 48 million people who currently receive Social Security benefits, one in three is not a retiree; one in 15 is a child under the age of 18."

Full Report:
Whose Security? What Social Security Means to Children and Families (PDF file - 90K, 10 pages)

National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) - New York

Related NCCP Links:

New Policy Brief and Fact Sheet on Social Security and Children
"Although most discussions of Social Security focus on its retirement benefits, the program is more accurately described as a family insurance program. Social Security is the primary, if not the only, source of life and disability insurance for many U.S. families, especially those headed by younger workers. Social Security is responsible for keeping many middle- and low-income children from falling into poverty when a parent dies or becomes disabled."

Questions for policymakers on Social Security and Children
"...questions policymakers should consider before proposing changes in the program that would affect the children and spouses of deceased workers, and disabled workers and their families."

Related Links:
- Go to the Pension Reforms Links page:

The Evolution of Income Security Research—1968-2003 (PDF file - 83K, 6 pages) - U.S.
By Barbara B. Blum
The Forum - May 2004 Issue
(Research Forum Newsletter)
- Negative Income Tax Experiments, Supported Work Research, State System Welfare/Work Demonstrations, Research on Child and Family Well-being, and more...

State Policy Choices: Assets and Access to Public Assistance
October 2003
"New fact sheet: Even small levels of savings or a single car can make families ineligible for TANF cash assistance, food stamps, and public health insurance. State assets tests vary widely."
Abstract (HTML file)
Full Text (PDF file - 147K, 3 pages)

Debt and Assets Among Low-Income Families
October 2003
"Low-income families today are burdened with rising levels of debt but have few assets to leverage if they are confronted by a financial crisis, such as a job layoff or long illness. Our new report finds that, for low-income families, average debt doubled between 1984 and 2001, while most have only a few hundred dollars in liquid assets."
Abstract (HTML file)
Full Text (PDF file - 76K, 5 pages)

Circumstances Dictate Public Views of Government Assistance
October 2003
"Perceptions of low-income families are evolving. This attitudinal research examines public opinion of such families and the policies designed to assist them."
Executive Summary
(PDF file - 464K)
Full Text
(PDF file - 518K)

Low Income and Hardship Among America's Kindergartners
September 2003
"Most of the families with incomes between 100-200 percent of the federal poverty level include at least one full-time working parent and even so continue to experience hardship, underscoring the importance of work supports such as child care subsidies. At least one in eight low-income families still cannot obtain health insurance for their children, have not taken their child to a dentist in the last year, and have moved three or more times in the child’s life."
Full Text
(PDF file - 120K)

The Effects of Parental Education on Income
September 2003
"New fact sheet: Nearly two-thirds of low-income children have parents without any college education. Policies that support education for low-income parents and their children offer them the potential for lasting economic security."
Full Text
(PDF file - 465K)

Living at the edge : America's low-income children and families:
Employment alone is not enough
(PDF file - 500K, 11 pages)
August 2003
New York
Research brief, n° 1
"Nearly 40 percent of American children live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level — the amount that research suggests is needed for most families
to be economically self-sufficient."

Early Childhood Poverty: A Statistical Profile
March 2002
PDF version (462K, 6 pages)
"...almost one in five young children (18 percent in 2000) in the United States lives in poverty during the early years that are so important to future life chances. The 2.1 million children under age three who are poor face a greater likelihood of impaired development because of their increased exposure to a number of factors associated with poverty."

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH)
(NCH) is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission.

Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization
of Homelessness in U.S. Cities
(PDF - 811K, 194 pages)
July 2009
Homes Not Handcuffs is the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty’s (NLCHP) ninth report on the criminalization of homelessness and the National Coalition for the Homeless’ (NCH) fifth report on the topic. The report documents cities with the worst record related to criminalizing homelessness, as well as initiatives in some cities that constitute more constructive approaches to street homelessness. The report includes the results of research regarding laws and practices in 273 cities around the country; as well as descriptions of lawsuits from various jurisdictions in which those measures have been challenged.
[ News Release - July 14/09 ]


The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP)
The mission of NLCHP is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness.
[ NLCHP Publications ]

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH)
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission. That mission, our common bond, is to end homelessness.
[ NCH Publications ]

Related link:

Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?
By Barbara Erenreich
August 8, 2009
It’S too bad so many people are falling into poverty at a time when it’s almost illegal to be poor. You won’t be arrested for shopping in a Dollar Store, but if you are truly, deeply, in-the-streets poor, you’re well advised not to engage in any of the biological necessities of life — like sitting, sleeping, lying down or loitering. City officials boast that there is nothing discriminatory about the ordinances that afflict the destitute, most of which go back to the dawn of gentrification in the ’80s and ’90s. “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a city attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., said in June, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.”
New York Times

The above article by Barbara Erenreich is the third in a series; links to her two earlier op-eds appear below.
[You must register as a NY Times member to access the content below; it's free, and they won't send you any SPAM nor share your email address.]

* A Homespun Safety Net
By Barbara Erenreich
July 12, 2009

* Too Poor to Make the News
By Barbara Erenreich
June 14, 2009


New Report Documents 10 Years of Anti-Homeless Violence
Press release
August 7, 2009
Washington, DC– Today the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) released the 2008 numbers of hate crimes and violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness. The numbers are from a new report entitled Hate, Violence, And Death on Main Street USA, 2008.
Key findings include:
* The total number of attacks for 2008: 106.
* The number of fatal attacks is the second highest since 2001: 27 deaths.
* 73 percent of the attacks were committed by individuals who were ages 25 and younger.
* Florida ranked #1 for the fourth year in a row for most attacks, California was second.

The new report:

Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA:
A report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness, 2008

August 2009
HTML version - table of contents and links to each chapter
PDF version (2.7MB, 98 pages)

[ All NCH Publications ]

The National Coalition for the Homeless

Media coverage:

Attacks on Homeless Bring Push on Hate Crime Laws
By Eric Lichtblau
August 7, 2009
WASHINGTON — With economic troubles pushing more people onto the streets in the last few years, law enforcement officials and researchers are seeing a surge in unprovoked attacks against the homeless, and a number of states are considering legislation to treat such assaults as hate crimes. This October, Maryland will become the first state to expand its hate-crime law to add stiffer penalties for attacks on the homeless. At least five other states are pondering similar steps, the District of Columbia approved such a measure this week, and a like bill was introduced last week in Congress.A report due out this weekend from the National Coalition for the Homeless documents a rise in violence over the last decade, with at least 880 unprovoked attacks against the homeless at the hands of nonhomeless people, including 244 fatalities. (...) Sometimes, researchers say, one homeless person attacks another in turf battles or other disputes. But more often, they say, the assailants are outsiders: men or in most cases teenage boys who punch, kick, shoot or set afire people living on the streets, frequently killing them, simply for the sport of it, their victims all but invisible to society.|
The New York Times


Report targets escalating civil rights abuses
against homeless people and identifies "meanest" cities

News Release
November 9, 2004
"WASHINGTON, DC- Today the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) releases Illegal to be Homeless: The Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States, the most comprehensive study of homeless civil rights violations. This study is also the most up-to-date survey of current laws that criminalize homeless people and ranks the top 'meanest' cities and states in the country. This report examines legislated ordinances and statutes, as well as law enforcement and community practices since August of 2003."

Complete report:

Illegal to be Homeless:
The Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States
November 2004

PDF version (1.5MB, 118 pages)

HTML version
Introduction (Introduction - Background - Methodology - Problem Statement/Consequences of Criminalization - Model Programs - Conclusions & Recommendations
Data from Surveyed Cities (Cities Included in this Report - Meanest Cities - Narratives of the Meanest Cities - Narratives of the Other Cities -Prohibited Conduct Chart)
Appendices ( Survey Questions - Incident Report Forms - Sources)

Related Links:
Go to the Homelessness and Housing Links page:

National Institutes of Health (NICHD) - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) seeks to assure that every individual is born healthy, is born wanted, and has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential for a healthy and productive life unhampered by disease or disability. In pursuit of this mission, the NICHD conducts and supports laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological research on the reproductive, neurobiologic, developmental, and behavioral processes that determine and maintain the health of children, adults, families, and populations.
See the impressive list of almost 40 Institutes, Centers and Offices attached to the NICHD - you'll find links to health information covering a wide range of topics such as cancer, genome research, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, nursing research, global health, and much more.Here are links to just two of the institutes of the NICHD:
National Institute of Aging (NIA)
The National Institute on Aging is a component of the NICHD that is devoted to improving the health of older people.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
NICHD research on fertility, pregnancy, growth, development, and medical rehabilitation strives to ensure that every child is born healthy and wanted and grows up free from disease and disability.


National Women's Law Center - Expanding the Possibilities
" protect and advance the progress of women and girls at work, in school, and in virtually every aspect of their lives"
Covers the following specific women's issues : Athletics - Child Care - Child and Family Support - Education - Employment - Health - Sexual Harassment - Women in the Military

New America Foundation
"The purpose of the New America Foundation is to bring exceptionally promising new voices and new ideas to the fore of our nation's public discourse. Relying on a venture capital approach, the Foundation invests in outstanding individuals and policy ideas that transcend the conventional political spectrum. (...) The New America Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit public policy institute that was conceived through the collaborative work of a diverse and intergenerational group of public intellectuals, civic leaders, and business executives."
Programs - includes : American Strategy - Asset Building - Fellows - Global Economic Policy - Health Insurance - New America Books - Spectrum Policy - Retirement Security - Work & Family
Issues - includes : New Economy - Civil Society - Education - Global Trade - Democracy - International Security - Environment

Recent sample reports:

The Misleading Way We Count the Poor:
Alternatives to Our Antiquated Poverty Measure Should Consider Assets
(PDF file - 73K, 5 pages)
September 15, 2003

Federal Policy and Asset Building New America Foundation (PDF file - 98K, 6 pages)
June 1, 2003

New America’s Asset Building Program - description of the Asset Building Program and links to related documents, events and other online resourcesI

New York Times

Selected site content:

Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance
By Jason Deparle and Robert Gebeloff
February 10, 2010
A decade ago, New York City officials were so reluctant to give out food stamps, they made people register one day and return the next just to get an application. The welfare commissioner said the program caused dependency and the poor were “better off” without it.
The New York Times

Related NY Times coverage:

The Safety Net
(series of feature articles on poverty in New York)
With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.

Other articles in this series:

* Living on Nothing but Food Stamps (January 3, 2010)
* Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades (November 29, 2009)
* Jobless Checks for Millions Delayed as States Struggle (July 24, 2009)
* Slumping Economy Tests Aid System Tied to Jobs (June 1, 2009)
* For Victims of Recession, Patchwork State Aid (May 10, 2009

See also:

* A History of Food Stamps Use and Policy
* Once Scorned, a Federal Program Grows to Feed the Struggling (slideshow)


Living on Nothing but Food Stamps
By Jason Deparle and Robert Gebeloff
January 2, 2010
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.
The Safety Net (series)
With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America's array of government aid - including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare - is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.
[ New York Times ]


New York City:
Welfare Rolls Grow in City, but Increase Is Modest
By Julie Bosman
December 16, 2009
As the number of New Yorkers applying for food stamps, enrolling in Medicaid and checking into homeless shelters climbed last year, the welfare rolls presented something of a riddle: they continued to fall. But last month, nearly 355,000 people in the city received welfare payments, a 4 percent increase over the year before, according to city officials, who predict that if the economy does not recover, the growth will continue for at least 18 months. City welfare officials and advocates for the poor disagree on why it took so long for the rolls to grow — the rise began in the summer — but the trend is a reflection of the national welfare reform of the 1990s, which also may be a factor in why the growth has been so slow. Even with the increases, the caseloads are still 23 percent lower than when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002 and are just a third of the number at the enrollment peak in 1995.
New York Times

[ Other NY Times articles about welfare ]


So how does that
compare to Canada, you ask?

Toronto welfare caseload stabilizing
December 14, 2009
By Rebecca Ryall
Toronto's welfare caseload is stabilizing as unemployment dips, but there are warnings the city's struggling economy isn't out of the woods yet.
The National Post


The Silence of the Lines:
Poverty reduction strategies and the crash of 2008
(PDF - 135K, 5 pages)
February 2009
By John Stapleton
"(...) people who once could successfully apply for welfare during a rough patch (along with all the people turned away from EI) are going to be turned away at the welfare office. The reason for this is that since the last major recession, governments have brought in four significant sets of changes:
• Lower social assistance rates;
• Much lower assets limits;
• Earning exemptions policies that do not apply to new applicants; and
• ‘Workfare’ — now called ‘community participation’.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives


Across U.S., Food Stamp Use Soars and Stigma Fades
A Growing Need for a Program Once Scorned

By Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff
November 28, 2009
MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.

The Safety Net
With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America's array of government aid - including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare - is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.

Food Stamp Usage Across the Country - (interactive U.S. map)
The number of food stamp recipients has climbed by about 10 million over the past two years, resulting in a program that now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children.

More NY Times articles
about the U.S. Food stamp program


Out of Work, Too Down to Search On, and Uncounted
By Michael Luo
September 7, 2009
They were left out of the latest unemployment rate, as they are every month: millions of hidden casualties of the Great Recession who are not counted in the rate because they have stopped looking for work. But that does not mean these discouraged Americans do not want to be employed. As interviews with several of them demonstrate, many desperately long for a job, but their inability to find one has made them perhaps the ultimate embodiment of pessimism as this recession wears on. Some have halted their job searches out of sheer frustration. Others have decided it makes more sense to become stay-at-home fathers or mothers, or to go back to school, until the job market improves. Still others have chosen to retire for now and have begun collecting Social Security or disability benefits, for which claims have surged...


States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable
By Erik Eckholm
April 11, 2009
PHOENIX — Battered by the recession and the deepest and most widespread budget deficits in several decades, a large majority of states are slicing into their social safety nets — often crippling preventive efforts that officials say would save money over time. President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package is helping to alleviate some of the pain, providing large amounts of money to pay for education and unemployment insurance, bolster food stamp programs and expand tax credits for low earners. But the money will offset only 40 percent of the losses in state revenues, and programs for vulnerable groups have been cut in at least 34 states, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a private research group in Washington.
NOTE : The article contains over a dozen embedded links to related news or outside websites

The Money Issue: The Poverty Platform (U.S. Election 2008)
June 10, 2007
John Edwards says Americans should care more about economic injustice. Can he turn the plight of the poor into a winning campaign issue?
NOTE: this article is nine pages long - click "NEXT PAGE" at the bottom of each page to read the whole article. The article focuses on John Edwards and the politics of poverty, and it contains some good historical info along with a number of hyperlinks to related articles. (Some of the linked articles require a [free] registration, but there's a lot of free content...)

Nieman Watchdog - "Questions the press should ask"
The NiemanWatchdog Journalism Project is an initiative of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism (founded in 1938) at Harvard University. It seeks to encourage more informed reporting by putting journalists in contact with authorities who can suggest appropriate, probing questions and who can serve as resources. There are already many very good journalism Web sites. We think our function at – suggesting questions the press should ask – sets us apart.

Poverty keeps growing in the U.S. but the press is almost blind to it
November 30, 2009
By John Hanrahan
Jeffrey Sachs, a leading figure on world poverty, says the American press follows the lead of politicians by zeroing out coverage of poverty at a time when ‘the U.S. has the greatest income inequality, highest per capita prison population and worst health conditions of all high-income countries.’

The above article is part of the following series in the Nieman Watchdog:
Reporting the Economic Collapse - links to 19 articles on the economic situation in the U.S.

Another sample article by John Hanrahan in the same series:

Rein in entitlements? No. Increase them, says James Galbraith.
October 08, 2009
It's time the press stopped falling for false, ongoing efforts to portray Social Security and Medicare as going broke, says economist James Galbraith. To the contrary, increases in entitlement program benefits would provide a major boost to economic recovery. For reporters and editors Galbraith's message is: Separate propaganda from facts.
[ James Galbraith article ]

Nonprofit Good Practice Guide (U.S.)
-incl. links to : Fundraising and Financial Sustainability - Governance - Staff Development and Organizational Capacity - Accountability and Evaluation - Volunteer Management - Communications and Marketing - Management and Leadership - Advocacy - Technology

Northwest Herald (Illinois)

In stimulus, social programs get largest boost in decades
By Michael Fletcher (The Washington Post)
WASHINGTON – The massive economic stimulus package approved by Congress dramatically ramps up spending for a broad array of social programs for needy Americans in a way not seen since the launch of the Great Society programs. (...) The bill includes billions in new money for food stamps, expanded child care and services for the homeless. It funds long-sought increases in education funding for low-income and special education students, new refundable tax credits for low-income workers, stepped-up job training, expanded health-care coverage, and an increase of $100 a month in unemployment insurance.

Pew Center on the States
[ Pew Charitable Trusts ]
The Pew Charitable Trusts applies the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems.
Pew's Center on the States identifies and advances state policy solutions.

Selected site content:

One in 31 U.S. Adults are Behind Bars, on Parole or Probation
Press Release
Washington, DC
March 2, 2009
Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on the States. The vast majority of these offenders live in the community, yet new data in the report finds that nearly 90 percent of state corrections dollars are spent on prisons. One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections examines the scale and cost of prison, jail, probation and parole in each of the 50 states, and provides a blueprint for states to cut both crime and spending by reallocating prison expenses to fund stronger supervision of the large number of offenders in the community.

Complete report:

One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections (PDF - 2MB, 48 pages)
Key findings include:
* One in 31 adults in America is in prison or jail, or on probation or parole (vs 1 in 77 twenty-five years ago).
* Overall, two-thirds of offenders are in the community, not behind bars.
* Correctional control rates are highly concentrated by race and geography: 9.2% black adults, 3.7% Hispanic adults, 2.2% white adults; 5.5% men, 1.1% women
* Georgia, where 1 in 13 adults is behind bars or under community supervision, leads the top five states that also include Idaho, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio and the District of Columbia.
The report also analyzes the cost of current sentencing and corrections policies.

Public Safety Performance Initiative <=== incl. links to related reports and media coverage

NOTE: For Canadian crime and justice statistics, see
[Part of the Canadian Social Research Links Social Statistics Links page: ]


Pew Report Finds More than One in 100 Adults are Behind Bars
Press Release
February 28, 2008
Washington, DC - For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison—a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women.

Complete report:

One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008 (PDF file - 635K, 37 pages)

U.S. Prison Statistics - from the U.S. Department of Justice

Related links:

U.S. Tops in the World in Incarceration Rate: Conservatives Hoping to Catch Up
By Brian Gordon
February 4, 2008
The United States has more people in prison, per capita, than any other country in the world. More than China, more than Iran, more than oppressive dictatorships the world over. And this is the model that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives want to follow by implementing 'tougher' drug laws.
Green Party of Canada

Adult and youth correctional services in Canada : Key indicators, 2005/2006
November 21, 2007
Canada's incarceration rate tends to be higher than most western European countries, yet far lower than that of the United States. For instance, Sweden posted an incarceration rate of 82 and France a rate of 85 per 100,000 population in 2005/2006. By comparison, the incarceration rate in Canada 110 prisoners per 100,000 population, England and Wales was 148, and in the United States the adult rate stood at 738 (the United States excludes youth from its rate).
Crime and Justice Statistics
[ Statistics Canada ]

World Prison Population List (Seventh Edition)
(PDF file - 80K, 6 pages)
January 2007
King's College, London

Pew Center on the States: Special Report on Medicaid 2006
Bridging the Gap Between Care and Cost
January 2006
This special report on Medicaid, by the Pew Center on the States, seeks to analyze the real-world experiences of states, highlight examples of what works and what doesn't, and inform a crucial policy debate that will affect the lives of millions of Americans.
- incl. links to the Complete report (PDF file - 292K, 24 pages) and to a table of contents (copied below) with links to the individual chapters in HTML.
Table of contents:
* The Great Debate Medicaid in the eye of the storm
* The Challenge of Change Balancing cost controls with the health of millions
The States at Work
* Long-term care Medicaid's Third Rail
* Prescription drugs The Rx Factor: Controlling prescription drug costs
* Technology The Great eHealth Hope: How technology can help
* Cost sharing Something of Value: Experiments in cost sharing
* Management Tools to Live By: Managing for better performance
* Private insurance Trading Places: Tapping into private insurance
* Reform The Radical Reformers: A new approach
* About the Report
* Related Resources - Links to over 800 reports from the 50 states pertaining to Medicaid and related health issues. These reports were published in 2004 and 2005 and come from many different sources, including auditors, legislatures, a wide variety of state agencies and research organizations. Resources can be browsed by state or topic.

News Release:

Pew Center on the States Examines State Innovation in Medicaid Policy
January 1, 2006
(Philadelphia, PA) - All 50 states are experimenting with new ways to try to rein in Medicaid costs. While these approaches may save money, they could limit the program's capacity to provide vital health care to the nearly 60 million Americans who depend on it. Which reforms have been most effective? What may be the unintended consequences of reforms to Medicaid? The Pew Center on the States, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts, today issued its first state policy report, Special Report on Medicaid: Bridging the Gap Between Care and Cost, which analyzes how state Medicaid programs are wrestling with rising costs and highlights examples of which innovations are working, which are not, and why.


Waging a Living, a documentary film about low-wage earners (the "working poor") in the U.S. by Robert Weisberg
(Check your local PBS listings)
"The term "working poor" should be an oxymoron. If you work full time, you should not be poor, but more than 30 million Americans - one in four workers - are stuck in jobs that do not pay the basics for a decent life. Waging a Living chronicles the day-to-day battles of four low-wage earners fighting to lift their families out of poverty."

TIP: check out the Resources link --- incl. What is a living wage? - Online discussion area - Download a podcast interview with Barbara Ehrenreich - Get updates on the people in the film - Listen to the filmmaker interview podcast.

P.O.V. (a cinema term for "point of view") --- television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films"
[ PBS ]

Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
"They're rolling back prices, rolling back the competition, and rolling jobs overseas..."

November 16, 2004
- incl. links to : introduction + secrets of wal-mart's success + transforming america + china connection + interviews - producer's notebook + american radio work's companion reports + join the discussion + correspondent's chat
teacher's guide + press reaction + tapes & transcripts + credits

Wal-Mart at a Glance
- stats and facts that capture Wal-Mart's size and scale:
* 100 million: The number of people who shop at Wal-Mart's 3400 American stores every week.
* 1.2 million: The number of Wal-Mart associates in the U.S. Any full- or part-time Wal-Mart employee, up to and including the CEO, is considered an "associate," in Wal-Mart parlance. Internationally, Wal-Mart employs an additional 330,000 associates.
*1979: The year Wal-Mart's sales first top $1 billion.
* $256 billion : Wal-Mart's sales in 2003. In the words of Wal-Mart CFO Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart's sales are equal to "one IBM, one Hewlett Packard, one Dell computer, one Microsoft and one Cisco System -- and oh, by the way, after that we got $2 billion left over."
* 8 percent: The amount of total U.S. retail sales, excluding automobiles, accounted for by Wal-Mart.
* $9.98: The average full-time hourly wage for a Wal-Mart employee. The average full-time hourly wage in metro areas (defined as areas with a population of 50,000 or more) is $10.38. In some urban areas it is higher: $11.03 in Chicago, $11.08 in San Francisco, and $11.20 in Austin.

Watch Online - link directly to streaming video of the entire show (broken up into smaller segments for faster downloading)
NOTE: if you can't see any video, it may be because you're behind a corporate firewall, e.g., if your Internet connection is from a government or university computer network, for security reasons.
You should have no problem viewing the videos from home, even with a dialup connection.


Related Wal-Mart Links - - Go to the Banks and Business Links page:

Population Reference Bureau (U.S. - world)
Providing timely and objective population information
The Population Reference Bureau is the leader in providing timely and objective information on US and international population trends and their implications.
PRB Web Sites
PRB has five Web sites that provide the latest and most accurate data on a range of topics within the field of population, health, and nutrition.
The main PRB Web siteis your first stop for population information.
MEASURE Communication promotes wider dissemination and increased use of information on population, health, and nutrition for planning and decisionmaking in developing countries.
PopNet is a comprehensive directory of population-related Web sites-by topic or keyword, by organization, or through a world regions map. All 200 countries in the World Population Data Sheet are indexed.
AmeriStat includes a series of charts, graphs, and brief narratives describing demographic trends in five subject areas including marriage and family, education, and poverty and income. will provide data, information, and analysis on the critical relationships between population, health, and the environment.

Poverty in America: Beyond Welfare Reform (PDF file - 992K, 39 pages)
June 2002
"Are America's poor better or worse off than in the past? Do persistent stereotypes and negative images of poor people match the current reality? Has welfare reform led America's poor to adopt a new or different set of values and standards of behavior?"

Government Spending in an Older America (PDF file - 455K, 19 pages)
May 2002
"The population of the U.S. is getting older, and older people receive more in public benefits than they pay each year in taxes. How should our public finance system be changed in order to deal with this new demographic situation?"

Patterns of Poverty in America
June 2002
"New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 12.4 percent of the U.S. population — about 34 million people — were below the poverty level in 1999.* The data, which include the first information available from the 2000 Census long form, show wide disparities in poverty levels among states and local areas."
- incl. a U.S. map showing the percent of persons in poverty by County in 1999 plus links to State, County and City data (in Excel Spread Sheet and Text formats)

Poverty Action Lab (MIT)

Many laboratories focus their attention on topics like Alzheimer's research, but this laboratory at MIT focuses on poverty. The objective of their work at the Poverty Action Lab is "to improve the effectiveness of poverty programs by providing policy makers with clear scientific results that help shape successful polices to combat poverty." The Lab was started in June 2003 by a group of professors at MIT and their collaborators. Visitors to the site will note that the materials here are divided into sections that include "Research", "People", "News", and "Courses". The "Research" section is a great place to start as policy makers and others can look over their completed projects (such as "Discrimination in the Job Market") and their publications. Moving on, visitors can click on the "People" section to learn more about their staff and directors. Finally, those who are curious about the reach of the Poverty Lab's work will want to look at their media features in the "News" section.
Review by:
The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2008.

Poverty Dispatch (U.S.)
The Poverty Dispatch is a daily scan of U.S. web-based news items dealing with topics such as poverty, welfare reform, child welfare, education, health, hunger, Medicare and Medicaid, etc.. The Dispatch is distributed by the Institute for Research on Poverty, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. News articles from online newspapers are posted here in a number of general categories, and are tagged with more specific keywords relevant to each article.

Tags (halfway down the page)
Clicking on a word or expression in the list of tags will call up all relevant news items from past Dispatches under that tag.
Tags include:
* Academic achievement * Affordable Care Act (ACA) * Applicants * Budget cuts * California * Cash assistance * Census * Child poverty * Child welfare * Child well-being * Cities * Economic stimulus * Eligibility * Enrollment * Florida * Food insecurity * Foster care * Health care costs * Health insurance coverage * Homeless families * Income * Indiana * Jobless benefits * Job losses * Jobs * Kids Count * Low-wage work * Medicaid * Michigan * Minnesota * Neighborhoods * Ohio * Poverty measurement * Poverty rate * Privatization * Recession * Safety net * Schools * Shelters * SNAP/Food Stamps * States * Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) * Texas * Unemployment rate * Wisconsin

Latest issues of Poverty Dispatch:

See the Poverty Dispatch Archive


Earlier Poverty Dispatches (back to July 2006):
1. Go to the Poverty Dispatch home page: [ and click on a date in the calendar in the top right-hand corner of the page. Change the month by clicking the link at the bottom of the calendar.
3. Go to the Poverty Dispatch home page and click on a category or a tag in the right-hand margin.
4. See (more complete listing, but only goes back to December 2011)


NOTE : You can subscribe to this email list or RSS feed
by clicking "Subscribe" in the right-hand margin on any page of the Poverty Dispatch website


Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Public Agenda Online

"Public Agenda was founded by social scientist and author Daniel Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in 1975. Public Agenda's two-fold mission is to help American leaders better understand the public's point of view [and to help] citizens know more about critical policy issues so they can make thoughtful, informed decisions."

Public Agenda Issue Guides (U.S.)
Public Agenda Issue Guides are used by journalists, policy makers, teachers, students and citizens who want to better understand controversial topics. Public Agenda Issue Guides provide facts and figures, different perspectives and analysis of public attitudes from surveys conducted by Public Agenda and by other respected polling and news organizations.
List of Issue Guides:
Abortion * America's Global Role * Campaign Reform * Child Care * Crime * The Economy * Education * The Environment * The Federal Budget * Gay Rights * Health Care * Higher Education * Illegal Drugs * Immigration * Internet Speech/Privacy * Medical Research * Medicare * Poverty and Welfare * Race * Right to Die * Social Security

The Issues
- incl. Abortion - America's Global Role - Campaign Reform - Child Care - Crime - The Economy - Education - The Environment - The Federal Budget - Gay Rights - Health Care - Higher Education - Illegal Drugs - Immigration - Internet Speech/Privacy - Medical Research - Medicare - Poverty and Welfare - Race - ight to Die - Social Security

Excellent collection of resources organized by theme. Explores both the factual side and the public opinion side.
Select an issue from the list for an overview - recent stories - facts and trends (different perspectives on the issue from different schools of thought) - sources and resources - how the public defines the issues - public views on policy options - areas of public consensus and demographic division - and more

Here are just two examples of what you'll find here :
Issue guide on Poverty and Welfare
Issue guide on Social Security

Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families (PDF file - 931K)
Economic Policy Institute
Family Budgets Calculator
Press Release (July 24, 2001)
This 115-page report, released at the end of last month, "is the most comprehensive study of family hardships ever published." The report examines the plight of the working poor by determining basic family budgets for communities across the nation -- the amount of money a family needs for food, housing, utilities, child care, transportation, and health care -- and comparing these figures to wage statistics. The report concludes that two-and-a-half times more families fall beneath the basic family budget levels for their communities than fall below the federal poverty line. The Family Budgets Calculator is an online supplement to the report that generates basic budgets for different kinds of families for 400,000 communities.
Reviewed by The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2001
- Got to the Economic Policy Institute website


Research Forum on Children, Families and the New Federalism
The Research Forum encourages collaborative research and informed policy on welfare reform and child well-being. Our web site features an on-line database of summaries of large- and small-scale research projects. The database currently (June/02) includes 63 reviewed and 190 unreviewed research projects.
The Research Forum is an initiative of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) - see the link to the NCCP above (in alphabetical order)

View the list of projects included in the database or search the database

Recent American Social Research:
Research Forum Update (12 December 2003)

[weekly newsletter]

Implementation of Welfare Reform in Virginia
Virginia Time Limit Study
State of Louisiana TANF Evaluation
Wyoming Survey of Former POWER Recipients
Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study
National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies
Evaluation of the Families in Transition Program

Complete Project List - links to all 65 reviewed and 275 unreviewed research projects in the Research Forum database

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: TOTAL NUMBER OF FAMILIES AND RECIPIENTS: Percent Change from March 2003 to June 2003
- from the U.S. Administration for Children and Families

December 2003 CLASP Update
- from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Rethinking Local Affordable Housing Strategies: Lessons from 70 Years of Policy and Practice
- from the Brookings Institution

Medicaid: Current Benefits and Flexibility
- from the Kaiser Family Foundation

The Research Forum Website
"The Research Forum website is designed to provide researchers, policymakers, and practitioners with information about research related to welfare and income security, child/family, and community/neighborhood issues. Some of the most useful features of the website include key topics pages, a searchable research project database, a publications calendar, an Add A Project form, a glossary, a database updates log, various policy resources, and Research Forum publications. (...) The web site includes up-to-date summaries of 65 large scale or multi-site, reviewed research projects and 275 smaller (unreviewed) projects."
[ National Center for Children in Poverty - Columbia University Health Sciences, New York ]

Research on Welfare Programs Important During a Period of Uncertainty (PDF file - 450K, 6 pages)
The Forum Newsletter
January 2003
"This issue by Barbara B. Blum examines the effects of reauthorization uncertainties and economic conditions on program administration and research."

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

Barely Hanging On: Middle-Class and Uninsured (PDF - 512K, 10 pages)
In recent times, the ability of middle-class persons to secure adequate health care insurance has been compromised by a number of factors. These are the findings of a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released in March 2010. The work chronicles state-by-state health coverage trends since 1999, and it was prepared by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota. The report notes that the total number of uninsured, middle-class people increased by more than 2 million since 2000 and that the average employee's cost for health insurance rose 81 percent from 2000 to 2008. Visitors can peruse the 10-page report's various charts and tables at their leisure, and the report is of particular interest to those in the fields of public health and health care management.
Reviewed by:
The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2010.

Related links:

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Our goal is clear: To help Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need.

State Health Access Data Assistance Center
The University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help states monitor rates of health insurance coverage and to understand factors associated with uninsurance.


Research on U.S. Health Insurance Coverage - links to reports, journal articles and books on health insurance coverage in the U.S. from 1999 to 2005

Cover The Uninsured Week - U.S.
May 1-8, 2005
"Today, 45 million Americans have no health insurance, including more than 8 million children. Eight out of 10 uninsured Americans either work or are in working families. Being uninsured means going without needed care..."
Cover The Uninsured Week is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Who's Involved - Former Presidents Ford and Carter are again serving as Honorary Co-Chairs for Cover the Uninsured Week...

SafeLink Wireless (U.S.) is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month for income-eligible customers.
To be eligible for SafeLink, a person must be participating in specified State or Federal assistance programs, such as Federal Public Housing Assistance, Food Stamps and Medicaid - OR - the person's total household income is at or below 135% of the poverty guidelines set by individual Statea and/or the Federal Government.

Is a cellphone a basic human right?
As the United States provides mobile phones to the poor, experts argue they are not a luxury

January 10, 2009
By Lynda Hurst
All compassionate governments should provide which of the following to their people:
a) food
b) shelter
c) medical care
d) a cellphone.
Having a little problem with d)?
Rephrase it then to "the right to communicate." Still a problem? It isn't south of the border. In the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. has increased the drive to ensure all citizens have basic phone services and access to help in times of emergency. More than 7 million Americans still don't. Last fall, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched SafeLink, a program that provides eligible people with a free cellphone and 68 minutes a month of free airtime for the period of one year. It includes texting, voicemail, call waiting and caller ID. The program is up and running in Florida, Tennessee and Virginia, where more than 2 million households qualify for the service, and is scheduled to go into nine other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. SafeLink was the brainchild of Miami-based TracFone Wireless Inc., the largest prepaid cellphone company in the U.S. As a purely prepaid provider, TracFone has always aimed at the market's lower end.
The Toronto Star

The Scout Report

The Scout Report - December 15, 2006 issue
Selections from the Table of Contents:
(click the link above to access any selection or to read the entire issue)
* Electronic Journal of Sociology
* The History of the Supreme Court
* The knowledge economy of Europe
* Open Budget Index
* Stop Child Poverty
* USDA: Food & Nutrition Service
* The World
* Tools for Understanding
* As founder of the Grameen Bank receives Nobel Peace Prize, the profile of microcredit lending grows
The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2006
[ Internet Scout Project ]
[ University of Wisconsin - Madison ]
NOTE: The Scout Report is a weekly newsletter that's available by e-mail or online.
Just go to the Scout Report site to check out the rest of the current issue as well as back issues, and to sign up for the e-mail edition.

Previous Issues of The Scout Report - back to 1994


Poor and Homeless Continue to Face Major Challenges in Urban Areas - U.S.
October 12/05

Crowded Out By Luxury Lofts, Poor Seek Relief,0,2051236.story?coll=la-home-local

Polk Gulch cleanup angers some

Nation taking a new look at homelessness, solutions

Study: U.S. poor trapped in urban areas

Katrina’s Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America [pdf]

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness [pdf]

"As the recent tragedy wrought by Hurricane Katrina revealed, poor and homeless residents of America’s cities remain particularly vulnerable. Whether it is the phenomenon of gentrification or the world of natural hazards, many continue to remain marginalized in terms of opportunities, whether they be economic or otherwise. This week, a number of news pieces once again reminded the general public about the precarious situation faced by this group. In Los Angeles, the City Council decided to impose the first limits on the luxury loft and condo boom that is gradually pushing out single-room-occupancy hotels, most of which are concentrated in the city’s downtown area. While this type of creeping development may affect the poor in increasingly popular urban places, less successful cities continue to have many neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. As a report from the Brookings Institution released this week noted, poor planning over the past several decades has continued to concentrate public housing at the urban core. Generally, the end result is that many urban dwellers remain cut off from the rapid economic and housing growth that has been experienced around the urban fringe. [KMG]

The first link will lead users to a nice article from this Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times that discusses the recent action taken by the City Council. The second link leads visitors to a San Francisco Chronicle article that discusses the recent trend towards gentrification in the city’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. The third link leads to a USA Today article from this past Monday, which talks about how the recent Hurricane Katrina tragedy may transform certain aspects of addressing the homelessness situation in the country. The fourth link will take visitors to a CNN news piece, which talks about the recent report from the Brookings Institution that examines the concentration of urban poverty throughout a number of US cities. The fifth link leads to the full text of that report, authored by Alan Berube. The final link will take users to the homepage of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. [KMG]"

The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

NOTE: The Scout Report is a weekly newsletter that's available by e-mail or online.
Just go to the Scout Report site to check out the rest of the current issue as well as back issues, and to sign up for the e-mail edition.

- Go to the Homelessness and Housing Links page:

The Past, Present, and Future of Minimum Wage
By Stan Raybern
December 31, 2009
The U.S.federal minimum wage was established at $.25 per hour in 1938 and has increased over the years, in theory, to keep up with inflation, cost of living, and many other factors. Although the federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25, each individual state ultimately has the ability to set their own minimum wage. Residents of Kansas are keenly aware of this fact, where the state minimum wage is set at an astonishing $2.65. Check out where your state stands against the rest of the country, as well as other thought provoking facts as we take a look at the past, present, and future of minimum wage across America
Shrinkage is Good (Blog)

Funded entirely by The Pew Charitable Trusts as a public service, has published online every weekday except holidays since Jan. 25, 1999.

This Web site, staffed entirely by professional journalists, was originally envisioned primarily as a resource for newsmen and newswomen who cover state government. Using computer technology as a delivery vehicle, we proposed to arm these news-gatherers with timely tips and research material on state policy innovations and trends, enabling them to make their reporting more informative and useful to consumers. This, we believed, would help nourish public debate of important state-level issues such as healthcare, tax and budget policy, the environment, welfare reform and other issues that in recent years have not gotten the media attention they deserve.

But our readership has grown far beyond our original target audience and now includes thousands of state officials, students of state government and ordinary citizens who want to keep track of what's going on in their state capitol and in other states throughout the country. is an independent element of the Pew Research Center and is based in Washington, DC. In addition to our online news gathering activities, we periodically publish printed reference materials that are free for the asking, including a State of the States report released every January. We also sponsor professional development conferences and workshops for the news media, including the annual conference of CapitolBeat, the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. For further information, email or contact us at 202-419-4470.

Stop Capital Punishment Now! - U..S.
"Stop Capital Punishment Now! is an Internet based initiative attempting to achieve total abolition of the death penalty in all countries of the world and particularly in the United States of America. We believe that the taking of a human life is morally and ethically wrong. We believe that the premeditated killing by the state of its own citizens is barbaric and reprehensible."
Abolition Organizations and Web Sites - links to 40+ sites, mainly American...
The Canadian Abolition Project - Canadians working together to end the death penalty
"The Canadian Abolition Project was founded to campaign in support of Canadian government policies that will ensure consistency with Canada's position as a completely abolitionist nation. We will encourage and support interventions by the Canadian government in defence of Canadians facing the death penalty abroad. We are dedicated to achieving abolition of the death penalty for all, in all countries of the World and particularly in the United States of America. ."
- incl. links to : Canadian Abolition Sign Up Page - Canadian Abolition Email Archives - Canadian Resources [contact info for Canadian Senators, MPs and committees] - Invitation to the 1st Annual Peaceful Presence and Public Awareness Day in Toronto.

Views from the American Right

- The Family Research Council
- The Heartland Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- The Claremont Institute
 - Privatization of Social Security
- RAND Home Page
Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
Cato Institute -

The Cato Institute also maintains the following Web sites:

U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network

On Welfare and the Alternatives
Welfare reform was a good idea in theory but hasn't quite worked out the way NEWT (Gingrich) and Bill Clinton thought it would.

March 1, 2007
"(...)if you want to decrease the size of government while making people self-sufficient and in doing so leaving the family unit intact, there is a rather simple solution that has been batted around since the Nixon administration. The Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is a government ensured guarantee that no one's income will fall below the level necessary to meet their most basic needs for any reason. As Bertrand Russell put it in 1918, "A certain small income, sufficient for necessities, should be secured for all, whether they work or not, and that a larger income should be given to those who are willing to engage in some work which the community recognizes as useful. On this basis we may build further." Thus, with BIG no one is destitute but everyone has the positive incentive to work. BIG is an efficient, effective, and equitable solution to poverty that promotes individual freedom and leaves the beneficial aspects of a market economy in place. (...) I believe in dismantling the entire welfare system, Medicaid/care included and replacing it with the above BIG. This is the conservative solution without making judgments or convoluting it with man-managed bureaucracies as this would be the domain of the US Treasury department.
Source: ("pop-culture since '96")

What is the Basic Income Guarantee?
[For a discussion of BIG as a solution to poverty see "An Efficiency Argument for the Basic Income Guarantee"]
[For cost estimates of BIG See Garfinkel, Huang, and Naidich (2002) or Clark (2002)]
[For a History of USBIG 1999 to 2004, see The first five years of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network]
[For a discussion of the diversity of BIG proposals see, "The Many Faces of Universal Basic Income." (Reprinted by permission from the Political Quarterly 75 (3), 2004, pp. 266-274.0)]
U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

PovertyUSA (CCHD) - America's Forgotten State
"For more than 31 million Americans, every day is a bitter struggle to survive with the least. They are America's poor, left behind on the road to prosperity. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has created this site to raise awareness about poverty and help close the borders of this forgotten state."
- Go to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) website

January Is Poverty in America Awareness Month: New Media Campaign Spotlights 12 Million Poor Children in U.S.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Press Release
January 2, 2002
"The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today launched a new national awareness campaign emphasizing the tragic reality that one out of every six children in the United States lives in poverty, according to the most recent U.S. census figures. (...) Although poverty rates declined slightly from 1999 to 2000, more than 31 million people in the United States are poor and youth under 18 years of age still experience the highest incidence of poverty. The child poverty rate is actually higher than it was in 1979 and the U.S. ranks higher in this category than most industrialized nations."

United Council on Welfare Fraud - The United Council on Welfare Fraud (UCOWF) is an international organization of over 2,000 individuals from the United States and Canada who have combined their efforts to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in social service programs.

United Health Foundation
" UnitedHealth Group established the United Health Foundation in 1999 as a nonprofit, private foundation with a mission to support the health and medical decisions made by physicians, health professionals, community leaders and individuals that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities."

15th Annual Report About Nation’s Health Shows After Years of Progress,
Overall Healthiness Slowing Dramatically, Some Areas Declining
(PDF file - 131K, 4 pages)
Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont Hold Top Three Positions as Nation’s Healthiest States, Southeastern States
Experience Targeted Success but Continue to Face Challenges
Washington, D.C.
News Release
November 8, 2004
"United Health Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and Partnership for Prevention, today released the 15th annual America’s Health: State Health Rankings at the APHA’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C."

America's Health: State Health Rankings - 2004 Edition
- incl. links to : Intro and Findings (Foreword and Introduction, Measures of Success, 2004 Results, Changes from 2003, 1990, Comparison to Other Nations) - Components - State Snapshots - Methodology - Commentaries and Special Features - Appendices (Occupational Fatalities, Health Disparity, Index of Tables [total of 37 tables])

State Health Rankings Home Page

Related Link:

Americans' health is on the decline
Infant mortality, obesity rising

USA Today
November 8, 2004
"If the United States were a patient, according to the public health doctors who today will unveil results equivalent to a nationwide annual physical exam, the findings would portend trouble.After 15 years of significant improvements, progress has stalled. And two key areas in particular, obesity and infant mortality, are playing havoc with the country's vital signs."

The University of Texas Inequality Project is a small research group concerned with measuring and explaining movements of inequality in wages and earnings and patterns of industrial changes around the world. Our work so far has emphasized two techniques: the use of Theil's T statistic to compute inequality indexes from industrial data, and a combination of cluster analysis on rates of wage change and discriminant analysis to isolate the principal time patterns in changing wage structures.

The Urban Institute - A nonpartisan economic and social research organization
The Urban Institute is a nonprofit policy research organization established in Washington, D.C., in 1968. The Institute's goals are to sharpen thinking about society's problems and efforts to solve them, improve government decisions and their implementation, and increase citizens' awareness about important public choices. We are involved in research projects with partners in more than 45 states and 20 countries. Much of the Institute's funding comes from government agencies, corporations, and multi-lateral institutions such as the World Bank. As a non-profit organization, the Institute also depends on grants from foundations and contributions from individuals.

Large site (check out the Site Map)- includes information in many areas, including : American Cities - Updating America's Social Contract - Crime in America - Medicare - Social Security - Welfare Reform - The Working Poor - At-Risk Teens - Child Care - Homelessness - Family Well-Being - and much more...

Assessing the New Federalism is a multi-year Urban Institute research project to analyze the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states, focusing primarily on health care, income security, job training, and social services.

Selected site content:

NOTE: each of the the links below will take you to the abstract of a particular report or study.
On the abstract page, you'll find a link to the full report in PDF format and links to related publications
of the Urban Institute and to other publications by each of the authors.

Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections
By Julia Isaacs et al.
September 24, 2013
Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections
, a seventh annual report, looks comprehensively at federal spending and taxes on children. Federal outlays on children fell by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, which is the greatest single-year drop since the early 1980s.
NOTE : The link to the complete document (in PDF format) appears to the right of the brief abstract. The page also includes links to related publications (3) and other publications by the same authors. You can also click on a tag (just below the abstract) to access all items found under that tag.

Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children
This series of annual reports looks comprehensively at trends in federal and state spending and tax expenditures on children—the kids’ share of public spending.
- includes 25 links to earlier editions of this report and related resources (back to 2007).


We can end child poverty. Or, at least, do more.
By Austin Nichols
September 16, 2013
More than 16 million children in the United States are poor, and the child poverty rate has been at historic highs since the Great Recession. We could effectively end child poverty now, at least in the short run. The question is whether we’re willing to do that. If the United States offered cash benefits to children in poor families, we could cut child poverty by more than half. According to calculations using the 2012 Current Population Survey, poor children need $4,800 each, on average, to escape poverty. That’s $400 a month for each child.
- includes 10 text links to related content


Ten myth-busting facts about welfare
By Heather Hahn
September 11, 2013
Some Facts about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program

1. States have no legal obligation to support poor families with cash.
2. States are able to set their own rules about who gets TANF and how much, usually reflecting the state’s culture and philosophy about government’s role in helping the poor.
3. Not everyone who is poor gets welfare.
4. Reducing poverty is not one of TANF’s purposes.
5. Even though TANF was intended to assist needy families and promote work, the program devotes relatively few resources to either purpose.
6. The amount the federal government gives states for TANF has not changed since 1997.
7. The program was not responsive to the recession or the recent rise in poverty.
8. Since TANF began in 1997, the share of poor families receiving assistance has fallen in all states, and the difference among states has grown.
9. Some TANF policies discourage states from helping participants find work, in some cases giving states an incentive to drop families from their caseloads instead.
10. Almost half of TANF cases include only children, with no financial support for the adults. Many of these children (about 4 out of 10) are living with relatives other than their parents, and the rest live with parents who have been disqualified for a variety of reasons.

NOTE (by Gilles):
Fact #10 above is a solid argument in favour of avoiding comparisons between TANF welfare and Canadian welfare programs.

In Canada, there is a "child-only category" in some --- but not all --- provincial social assistance programs. That category, also known as Child in the Home of a Relative, applies only to children whose parents are unable to care for them, usually on a temporary basis. Nationally, the number of children receiving social assistance as a separate case and living with a relative is very low, hardly a blip. In other provinces, those same children would be placed in the care of a foster home or group home under the Child Welfare Act or similar statute.
Bottom line:
TANF child-only cases make up almost half of the TANF caseload in the U.S.
In Canada, child-only cases are rare in welfare programs.

This is only one reason to avoid comparing Canadian and American welfare systems.
For more reasons, see:


MetroTrends Blog

MetroTrends Blog is part of the
Urban Institute:

MetroTrends Blog

MetroTrends Blog is part of the
Urban Institute:


How marginal tax rates affect families at various levels of poverty
By Elaine Maag et al.
High marginal tax rates can make moving above poverty very difficult for low-income families. These high tax rates result from increasing direct taxes (both state and federal) as well as decreasing transfer payments (including both Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program bene? ts and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Depending on which state a person lives, a single parent with two children can face an average marginal tax rate of over 100 percent or as low as 26.6 percent as they move from the poverty level of income to 150 percent of the poverty level. If her earnings are limited to only six months of the year, she may retain transfer benefits for the remaining six months, lowering her marginal rate over the same income
range to between 66.0 percent and –17.7 percent for those additional earnings. Our analysis shows how sensitive marginal tax rates are to assumptions about earnings patterns and program participation.


Federal Spending on Kids Slips for First Time in Three Decades
July 19, 2012
Press Release
Federal spending on children declined in 2011 for the first time since the early 1980s, the Urban Institute’s sixth annual “Kids’ Share” study estimates. The children’s slice of the federal budget and gross domestic product also shrank. The decline in spending on kids will continue in the fiscal year that ends September 30, as the economic stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) are nearly exhausted. Assuming no changes in federal policies or law, the children’s share of federal program outlays and of GDP will drop through at least 2022, the Urban Institute researchers forecast.

Complete report:

Kids' Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 20110 (PDF - 5.6MB, 56 pages)
By Julia Isaacs et al.
This sixth annual Kids’ Share report examines federal expenditures on children in 2011, when the temporary boost in federal funding to address the recession was dwindling, yet states and families were still struggling to recover from the recession. This report provides in-depth analysis of dozens of federal programs and tax provisions that allocate resources to children and places these expenditures in the broader context of the overall federal budget.

Some key findings:

* Federal outlays on children fell by $2 billion, from $378 billion in 2010 to $376 billion in 2011 which is the first time spending on children has fallen since the early 1980s
* While the federal government spent less on children, total federal spending increased, from $3.52 to $3.60 trillion
* Ten programs and tax provisions account for three-quarters (75 percent) of the $445 billion in expenditures on children
* Federal spending on education was $5 billion lower in 2011 than in 2010, a drop equivalent to the total decline in outlays and tax expenditures.

Work Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement (Research Report)
By Richard W. Johnson, Melissa Favreault, Corina Mommaerts
January 2010
Questions persist about how well Social Security Disability Insurance, workers' compensation, Supplemental Security Income, and veterans' benefits protect people who are unable to work. This study examines disability benefit receipt, income, and poverty status for a sample of Americans as they age. The results underscore the precarious financial state of most people approaching traditional retirement age with disabilities. Fewer than half of people who meet our disability criteria ever receive disability benefits in their fifties or early sixties. Poverty rates for those who do are more than three times as high after benefit receipt than before disability onset.

Social Security Retirement Benefit Awards Hit All-Time High in 2009 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
By Richard W. Johnson, Corina Mommaerts
January 2010
Record numbers of older men and women began collecting Social Security benefits in 2009. New awards surged last year partly because the age-62 population grew rapidly. More importantly, older Americans were much more likely to claim Social Security in 2009 than recent previous years, probably because many seniors were unable to find work. Social Security benefits provide an important safety net for unemployed older adults, but early claimants receive permanently reduced benefits, threatening their future economic well-being.

Public Expenditures on Children through 2008 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
By Jennifer Ehrle Macomber, Julia Isaacs, Adam Kent, Tracy Vericker
January 2010
Key facts are highlighted from several Urban Institute and Brookings Institution reports on public expenditures on children through 2008. Findings reveal that spending on children increased under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other stimulus spending, but not proportionately to other federal spending. As ARRA expires, spending on children is projected to decline, assuming no change in current policies. Results also show that states and localities spent more money than the federal government did on children in 2004, except when it came to the youngest children, and that overall public investment (local, state, and federal) increases as children get older.

Kids' Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008 (Research Report)
By Julia Isaacs, Tracy Vericker, Jennifer Ehrle Macomber, Adam Kent
December 09, 2009
The third annual report looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that historically children have not been a budget priority. In 2008, this trend continued, as children's spending accounted for less than one-tenth of federal outlays. Absent a policy change, children's spending will continue to be squeezed in the next decade.

Data Appendix to
Kids' Share: An Analysis
of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008
(Research Report)
December 29, 2009
By Adam Kent, Tracy Vericker, Julia Isaacs, Jennifer Ehrle Macomber
Kids' Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008, a third annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Work and Income Security from 1970 to 2005 (Discussion Papers/Low Income Working Families)
By Gregory Acs, Seth Zimmerman
December 01, 2009
This paper uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assess how the economic security and mobility of nonelderly adults in families with children has evolved from 1970 through 2005. We find that that for individuals in low-income families with a full-time, full-year worker, both economic security and upward mobility increased over time. Our findings underscore the importance of work for the long-term security and mobility of low-income families. The high and rising unemployment rates of 2009 clearly imperil the progress made during the last three decades of the 20th century.

How Well Have Middle Class American Families Accumulated Wealth? (Article/Opportunity and Ownership Facts)
By Robert I. Lerman
November 30, 2009
Many commentators have worried about the low savings rates and high debt levels of American families. Does this picture of unbridled consumption and low asset accumulation fit the American family? Did declines in 2008-2009 house prices, stocks, and bonds reinforce stagnating wealth or offset previous growth in wealth? Using data from the 1989, 1998, and 2007 Surveys of Consumer Finances (SCF) to replicate family experiences over the life cycle by following age cohorts, this fact sheet shows that from 1989 to 2007 American families were accumulating wealth at a healthy rate as individuals and families moved through their life cycle.

Unemployment Statistics on Older Americans - Updated January 2010 (Statistics)
By Richard W. Johnson, Corina Mommaerts
The recession has increased joblessness among older Americans. These graphs and tables report unemployment rates and how they have varied by age, sex, race, and education since 2007.

Retirement Account Balances - Updated January 2010 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Barbara Butrica, Philip Issa
The retirement savings of American households took a big hit when the stock market crashed in 2008. Recently, however, a good portion of these losses has been reversed. This fact sheet follows trends in retirement account balances since the beginning of 2005.

Also from The Urban Institute:

A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
July 2008
America’s low-income working families are struggling to get by, too often forced to make impossible choices among food, housing, and health care.. Government safety nets were reformed in the mid-1990s with the promise that work would pay. But that promise remains unfulfilled for many families. These essays explore the challenges these vulnerable households face and suggest ways to protect them and help them thrive—urgent goals with far-reaching benefits for our children, our families, and our economic future.
[Click the link above to read abstracts of any of the essays below, then click the PDF link to access each essay.]
* A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
* Making Work Pay Enough: A Decent Standard of Living for Working Families
* Making Work Pay II: Comprehensive Health Insurance for Low-Income Working Families
* Family Security: Supporting Parents' Employment and Children's Development
* Helping Poor Working Parents Get Ahead: Federal Funds for New State Strategies and Systems
* Supporting Work for Low-Income People with Significant Challenges
* Weathering Job Loss: Unemployment Insurance
* Enabling Families to Weather Emergencies and Develop: The Role of Assets (New Safety Net Paper 7) by Signe-Mary McKernan and Caroline Ratcliffe

Low-Income Working Families
...a project of The Urban Institute

Unemployment compensation in a worldwide recession (PDF - 80K, 13 pages)
By W. Vroman and V. Brusentsev
June 2009
(International data)

The Recession and the Earned Income Tax Credit
By Roberton Williams, Elaine Maag
Publication Date: December 22, 2008
This brief, part of the Urban Institute's "Recession and Recover" series, assesses the extent to which the Earned Income Tax Credit can help families hit by job losses and falling incomes during a recession.
* Intro/Background
* Complete paper (PDF - 181K, 2 pages)

Recession and Recovery Papers <===scroll down the page for links to more papers
[ The Urban Institute ]
The Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
July 2008
America’s low-income working families are struggling to get by, too often forced to make impossible choices among food, housing, and health care.. Government safety nets were reformed in the mid-1990s with the promise that work would pay. But that promise remains unfulfilled for many families. These essays explore the challenges these vulnerable households face and suggest ways to protect them and help them thrive—urgent goals with far-reaching benefits for our children, our families, and our economic future.

NOTE: click the link above to access over two dozen essays, including the two samples below:

A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
By Sheila R. Zedlewski, Ajay Chaudry, Margaret Simms
Other Availability: PDF | Printer-Friendly Page
Posted to Web: July 16, 2008
During the 1990s, the federal government promised low-income families that work would pay. Parents moved into jobs in response to new welfare rules requiring work, tax credits and other work supports that boosted take-home pay. Unfortunately, the record shows that low-income families have not progressed much. Many don't bring home enough to cover the everyday costs of living. This paper synthesizes the current status of low-income families along with the findings from a set of essays that address key shortcomings in the safety net. The paper summarizes ideas for policies that would make work pay in today's economy.

Complete report:

A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families (PDF - 138K, 20 pages)
July 2008
"(...) This is a difficult moment to suggest new initiatives requiring additional federal and state expenditures and compelling employers to play a stronger role in supporting low-income families through broader health insurance coverage, retirement savings, and some paid sick leave. Already large, the federal budget deficit appears poised to expand rapidly as the baby boom generation enters retirement. The economy is weak. Employers are facing higher costs even as demand slackens. Yet, postponing additional investments in low-income working families will cost even more. Familiescannot pay their bills, and without health insurance they go too long without care."

Enabling Families to Weather Emergencies and Develop:
The Role of Assets

By Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe
Posted to Web: July 16, 2008
Low-wage jobs can be unstable, leaving families struggling to cope with employment gaps and financial emergencies that can strike without warning. About four in five low-income families are "asset poor," lacking enough liquid savings to live for three months at the federal poverty level without earnings. In this essay, McKernan and Ratcliffe suggest a cluster of policies that would improve financial markets and savings opportunities for low-income families across the life cycle.

Complete report:

Enabling Families to Weather Emergencies and Develop:
The Role of Assets
(PDF - 285K, 30 pages)
"(...) This essay proposes five complementary types of asset policies that enable families to weather emergencies and promote their long-term development:
1. Increase regulation of small loans, preferably with a savings component, to help families with few assets weather an emergency.
2. Match children’s accounts and EITC savings (when deposited into longer-term savings accounts, such as IDAs, or when used to buy U.S. savings bonds) to incentivize savings, help low-income working families get a toehold in the financial world, and increase financial literacy.
3. Allow incentivized savings accounts to be used for vehicle ownership and set up a national grants program to expand ownership of reliable vehicles.
4. Modify the mortgage interest tax deduction and increase oversight of “nonbanks” so low-income working families receive some of the same incentives and protections that higher-income families receive when buying a home.
5. Promote retirement savings through automatic IRAs to provide low-income working families with easy access to a retirement savings mechanism and thus a more secure retirement."

Low-Income Working Families Project
This new Urban Institute project applies rigorous research methods to track families over time and to analyze the risks these families face.

Latest reports from this project:

Low-Income Parents with Work Barriers Are Not Supported by a Comprehensive Service System
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2007 -- Wide variation in states’ welfare policies and needy recipients’ access to local services pose special challenges to low-income parents who already have employment barriers, says a new Urban Institute report.

Hard-to-Employ Parents: A Review of Their Characteristics
and the Programs Designed to Serve Their Needs

June 2007
by Sheila Zedlewski, Pamela Holcomb, and Pamela Loprest
Abstract + Excerpt (HTML)
Complete report
(PDF file - 171K, 40 pages)

Related links:

TANF Policies for the Hard-to-Employ:
Understanding State Approaches and Future Directions

July 2007
- summarizes how 15 states interact with hard-to-employ welfare recipients and new federal welfare requirements’ likely impacts on these state efforts.
Abstract + Excerpt (HTML)
Complete report (PDF file - 168K, 56 pages)

Framework for a New Safety Net for Low-Income Working Families
June 2007
- describes low-income working families’ circumstances and the gaps in current safety-net programs.
Abstract + Excerpt (HTML)
Complete report (PDF file - 279K, 56 pages)

More Urban Institute reports and related resources on work and income
More Urban Institute Reports - all topics, 4000+ reports

How Have Asset Policies for Cash Welfare
and Food Stamps Changed since the 1990s?

By Signe-Mary McKernan, William Margrabe
Posted to Web: June 28, 2007
[PDF version - 63K, 1 page]
Absract : Cash welfare and food stamps are means tested: assets and income must fall below set limits for families to qualify. While this ensures that benefits go to the neediest families, asset limits may also discourage asset building. This Opportunity and Ownership fact sheet examines allowance changes for restricted and unrestricted accounts at the federal and state level. It tracks the different allowances for IDAs, food stamps, and welfare programs from 1992 to 2003.

Related link:

Some Thoughts About New and Old Asset-Promotion Policies
(Opportunity and Ownership Project)
By Robert I. Lerman
Posted: June 14, 2007
Despite a plethora of proposals for helping people build assets, policy researchers have provided little methodological guidance about how best to view and evaluate these policies. This paper is an initial attempt to move in this direction, drawing on methods for assessing income-tested and social insurance programs and on analyses of public policies dealing with savings, investments, and risks. It examines whether and in what ways the traditional criteria of incentives, progressivity, and equity apply to an assessment of asset-building policies. Further, it discusses how to design an asset policy to deal with the potential social dislocations arising from gentrification.

Opportunity & Ownership Project - A Research Focus of the Urban Institute
"Given the chance, many low-income families can acquire assets and become more financially secure..."
- incl. links to : * About the Research * What's New * Recent Findings * Events * Asset-Related Research * The Research Team

The Changing Role of Welfare in the
Lives of Low-Income Families with Children
(Occasional Paper)
By Pamela J. Loprest, Sheila R. Zedlewski
Posted: August 30, 2006
This study uses data from the National Survey of America's Families 1997, 1999, and 2002, to summarize what we have learned about families potentially affected by welfare reforms passed in 1996. We describe outcomes for low-income families currently on welfare, families that recently left welfare, and those that have never received welfare. Changes in welfare policy, the economy and broader societal trends potentially affected all three groups. Our results show important differences in the relative well-being of these three groups over time, including changes in employment, poverty, and the share of families disconnected from either cash government assistance or work.
Executive Summary - HTML
Complete report (PDF file - 927K, 31 pages)

Understanding Changes in Child Poverty Over the Past Decade
May 2006
"Child poverty dropped dramatically from 1993 to 2000 and increased from 2000 to 2004; both trends were even more marked for black children. While work, education, and family structure, together with macroeconomic conditions, are all significant determinants of child poverty over the last twenty years, macroeconomic conditions dominate the explanation for the dramatic changes of 1993 to 2000 and 2000 to 2004. Specifically, the state unemployment rate and real minimum wage (especially interacted with educational attainment) explain most of the fall in child poverty during the 1990's and the more recent rise."
Summary - HTML

Complete report:
Understanding Changes in
Child Poverty Over the Past Decade
- PDF file (112K, 32 pages)
Austin Nichols
May 2006

Order Online (free)

Assessing the New Federalism: Eight Years Later (PDF file - 718K, 68 pages)
2005 (paper date April/May 2005)
"Since 1996, the Assessing the New Federalism (ANF) project of the Urban Institute and its partner Child Trends has analyzed the experiences of low-income families and children during major shifts in the
nation’s social welfare policies. Concentrating on welfare, employment, and health insurance, ANF research has also examined child welfare, immigrant families, and such policies as child care that help families integrate work with child rearing. Assessing the New Federalism: Eight Years Later synthesizes selected findings from more than 450 ANF publications plus dozens of journal articles, book chapters, and research presentations. These findings illustrate dramatic changes in the experience of low-income families, those who have been on welfare and those who haven’t, from the mid-1990s to the present. This report also cites the ANF publications that provide more detail and includes an annotated source list of other institutions and work in the field that complement what ANF has done."
[Excerpt from report's intro]
Assessing the New Federalism

Do Child Characteristics Affect How Children Fare in Families Receiving and Leaving Welfare? (PDF file - 124K, 46 pages)
August 2004
Related Link:
Study Takes Updated Look at Comparative Risks of Children in Families Receiving and Leaving Welfare
August 20, 2004
"The Urban Institute has just published "Do Child Characteristics Affect How Children Fare in Families Receiving and Leaving Welfare?", a discussion paper by Sharon Vandivere, Martha Zaslow, Zakia Redd, and Jennifer Brooks. The paper, which was produced as part of The Urban Institute's Assessing the New Federalism project, is based on Child Trends' new analyses of 1999 data from the National Survey of America's Families. Among the findings from these analyses is that that male - but not female - adolescents in families that have left welfare may be faring worse than their counterparts in the families that are still receiving welfare."
Child Trends E-Newsletter

Recent Trends in Food Stamp Participation among Poor Families with Children
Discussion Paper
June 2004
"Food stamp caseloads increased dramatically between October 2002 and October 2003. Our results show that families recently on welfare were substantially more likely to participate in the Food Stamp program in 2002 than in 1997 or 1999. In contrast, participation rates for families with no cash welfare experience, the largest share of poor families with children, remained quite low throughout the period. The new program rules and procedures did not affect their participation. The low current incomes and economic hardship of nonparticipating families indicate the food stamps would benefit these families substantially. States could encourage more families to take advantage of food stamps by strengthening public outreach and simplifying their programs."

Complete report (PDF file - 100K, 38 pages)

How Much do Welfare Recipients Know About Time Limits
December 2003

Safety Net or Tangled Web? An Overview of [ U.S. ] Programs and Services for Adults with Disabilities (PDF file - 500K, 42 pages)
November 2003
"Unfortunately, the safety net supporting many low-income adults with disabilities is more like a tangled web of conflicting goals and gaps in needed services. The opportunities for temporary cash, training, and rehabilitation support are generally very limited for many adults with disabilities, particularly those who have limited work histories or experienced disability onset outside of work."
Table of Contents and Summary of the StudyFewer Welfare Leavers Employed in Weak Economy(PDF file - 86K, 2 pages)
Research Report
Published: August 21, 2003
"Data from the 2002 National Survey of America's Families show that employment among welfare leavers fell from 50 percent in 1999 to 42 percent in 2002. 14 percent of welfare leavers had no source of income in 2002 compared with 10 percent in 1999. Wages, hours, benefits, and work schedules of working welfare leavers were unchanged between 1999 and 2002."
HTML version

Snapshots of America's Families 3: Tracking Change 1997 - 2002
Publication Date: August 21, 2003
- based on data from the 2002 National Survey of America's Families
NOTE: each "snapshot" is available in HTML format or as a PDF file (usually a few pages)

Work and Barriers to Work among Welfare Recipients in 2002
" ... new welfare recipients increased from 26 percent of the welfare caseload in 1999 to 34 percent in 2002. 51 percent of welfare recipients with no barriers to employment were working compared with 14 percent of recipients with two or more barriers. About half of long-term stayers reported multiple barriers to employment."

Work Activities of Current Welfare Recipients
"... about six out of 10 adults receiving welfare in 2002 reported that they had either worked or engaged in activities to prepare for work during the previous 12 months. The share of welfare recipients working during the preceding 12 months rose from 31 percent in 1997 to 44 percent in 1999 before falling to 39 percent in 2002."

Fewer Welfare Leavers Employed in Weak Economy
"...employment among welfare leavers fell from 50 percent in 1999 to 42 percent in 2002. 14 percent of welfare leavers had no source of income in 2002 compared with 10 percent in 1999. Wages, hours, benefits, and work schedules of working welfare leavers were unchanged between 1999 and 2002."

Use of Government Benefits Increases among Families Leaving Welfare
"... food stamp receipt among welfare leavers rose from 28 percent in 1999 to 35 percent in 2002. Adults' Medicaid and SCHIP receipts increased from 40 percent in 1999 to 48 percent in 2002. 33 percent of families without Medicaid or SCHIP returned to welfare compared with 22 percent of families with this coverage."

Disconnected Welfare Leavers Face Serious Risks
"....57 percent of disconnected welfare leavers face more than one barrier to work compared with 17 percent of working welfare leavers. 63 percent of disconnected welfare leavers report running out of money to buy food compared with 43 percent of working former recipients."
Related Link:
National Survey of America's Families

Finding Out What Happens to Former Clients
Publication Date: July 22, 2003
"To measure lasting effects of nonprofit programs, clients must be tracked after they leave services. Information on status at some point later--perhaps three, six, nine, or 12 months--is needed to measure outcomes, to assess program results, and to identify needed improvements. Drawing from lessons learned by community-based nonprofits, the guide offers practical advice on how to collect these data efficiently, successfully, and at reasonable cost. Primarily geared to meet the needs of nonprofit managers and professional social service staff, it offers step-by-step procedures, model materials (including planning tools and feedback forms), and suggestions for keeping costs low."
Table of Contents (HTML) - incl. full text of preface, acknowledgments and Introduction only
Complete report (PDF file - 252K, 43 pages)
Order Online (to obtain a paper copy)

Fast Facts on Welfare Policy
- links to 18 one-page factsheets (from August 2001 to June 2002) on a variety of topics related to welfare reforms in the states, including the following:
Two-Parent Family Eligibility (June 2002)
TANF Funding Formula Disadvantages Many States (June 2002)
Welfare Leavers Are Concentrated in Service and Clerical Jobs (June 2002)
Formal Diversion Programs (June 2002)
Worst Case Sanctions (June 2002)
State Policies on Lifetime Time Limits (June 2002)
Long-Term Welfare Recipients are More Likely to Face Barriers to Work than Other Welfare Recipients (June 2002)
Vehicle Asset Exemptions (June 2002)
Initial TANF Income Eligibility Thresholds (June 2002)
Work Status of Welfare Leavers (May 2002)
Rules and Regulations of the Seven Major Programs That Serve Low-Income Families with Children (May 2002)
How are TANF Dollars Spent? (May 2002)
Insuring Uninsured Children - What More Can Be Done? (February 2002)
Welfare Reform Turns Five (August 2001)
...and more.

State Policies on Lifetime Time Limits (small PDF file, June 2002)

Truthout works to broaden and diversify the political discussion by introducing independent voices and focusing on undercovered issues and unconventional thinking. (...) We are devoted to the principles of equality, democracy, human rights, accountability and social justice.

Nine Myths About Socialism in the US
April 12, 2010
By Bill Quigley
Attention Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires and their supporters: As Sen. Patrick Moynihan used to say "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts." The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and poor people compared to other countries.

Click the link above to read the facts about the following myths:

Myth No. 1: The US Government Is Involved in Class Warfare, Attacking the Rich to Lift Up the Poor.
Myth No. 2: The US Already Has the Greatest Health Care System in the World.
Myth No. 3: There Is Less Poverty in the US Than Anywhere.
Myth No. 4: The US Is Generous in Its Treatment of Families With Children.
Myth No. 5: The US Is Very Supportive of Its Workers.
Myth No. 6: Poor People Have More Chance of Becoming Rich in the US Than Anywhere Else.
Myth No. 7: The US Spends Generously on Public Education.
Myth No. 8: The US Government Is Redistributing Income From the Rich to the Poor.
Myth No. 9: The US Generously Gives Foreign Aid to Countries Across the World.


See also:
The Socialist-Free Purity Pledge (U.S.)


University of California - Berkeley Labor Center

Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs:
Use of Safety Net Programs by Wal-Mart Workers in California
(PDF file - 838K, 16 pages)
August 2, 2004
Wal-Mart workers in California earn over 30% less than workers employed in large retail as a whole, and 23% fewer of them are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. The families of Wal-Mart employees in
California account for an estimated 40% more in taxpayer-funded health care than the average for families of all large retail employees; for non-health care, this figure is 38%. Many Wal-Mart workers are forced to turn to public safety net programs (e.g., food stamps, Medicare, Earned Income Tax Credit, subsidized school lunches, subsidized housing) to make ends meet. In California, the additional costs borne by these government programs amount to some $86 million annually ($32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance). The authors estimate that this figure would grow to over $400 milllion if other large California retailers adopted Wal-Mart’s wage and benefits standards. These are the hidden costs of the Wal-Mart world we live in...

Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs:
Authors' Response to Wal-Mart’s Statements
(PDF file - 19K, 3 pages)
August 3, 2004


New Resources on Aging (bi-weekly e-letter)
Table of Contents:
* Editorial Notes * On the WEB * New Publications * New Resources at the Center Library * Calendar of Events * Community Resources
- almost 100 links per issue!

Web Links on Aging
1,000+ links, organized alphabetically from Academic to Women, split into three pages for easier download
A - H
I - P
Q to Z

University of California at Berkeley Resource Center on Aging

USA Today

How welfare reform changed America
July 18, 2006
"(...)Among the things that experts say could be going better:
• Most of the women who left welfare remain in low-paying, unskilled jobs. Those with the greatest burdens — mental illness, substance abuse, criminal records — seldom make it easily from welfare to work. "They became the working poor," says Sheri Steisel, a welfare expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Many of these families are still struggling."
• More than half of those still on welfare aren't looking for work, honing their skills or going to school. That has led to a crackdown by the Bush administration, which last month issued tough new regulations designed to ensure that at least half the people on welfare are involved in activities such as job training or community service.
"There's now a reciprocal responsibility," says Wade Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. "In exchange for the cash assistance, you're supposed to be doing something."
• More than half of those eligible for welfare payments don't get them — a sign, critics say, that the new system discourages people who need help from applying. "We now simply have a system that provides less help in times when people are without work," says Mark Greenberg, a liberal welfare expert at the Center for American Progress, a think tank.
• While welfare was trimmed, other parts of the nation's social safety net were expanding. The number of people receiving Medicaid and food stamps has soared by 50% since 2000. Medicaid is now the nation's largest entitlement program, with 53 million recipients; 25 million people get food stamps. That upsets conservatives who applauded welfare reform. "The bulk of the welfare system is exactly the way it was back in 1972," Rector says, "except that it's bigger and more expensive."

Washington Post

[U.S.] Welfare Rolls See First Climb in Years
Job Losses Bring Applicants From Middle Class, Test New Focus on Finding Work
December 17, 2008
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the first time since welfare was redefined a dozen years ago, weaning millions of poor Americans from monthly government checks, the deteriorating economy is causing a surge in welfare rolls in a growing number of states. The swelling caseloads pose the first hard test of the premise behind transforming the old system of welfare, once considered an open-ended right, into a finite program built to provide short-term cash assistance and steer people quickly into jobs.

Welfare Information Network (WIN)
"A project of The Finance Project, WIN is a clearinghouse for information, policy analysis and research related to welfare, workforce development, and other human and community services."

NOTE: the Welfare Information Network website is now defunct;
it has been replaced by the Economic Success Clearinghouse

Welfare to Work Partnership

The Welfare to Work Partnership helps businesses identify and capitalize on hiring, retention and career advancement strategies outside of the corporate mainstream in an ever-changing workforce landscape.

The Partnership is a nonpartisan, nationwide effort designed to encourage and assist private sector businesses with hiring people on public assistance. It was formed on May 20, 1997 by the following companies: Burger King, Monsanto, Sprint USA, United Airlines and UPS. In just a few months, however, The Partnership has expanded to hundreds of companies, known as Business Partners. Over 70% of them are small- to medium-sized firms.
(HMMMM - this link was dead when I checked it on Dec. 6/03 --- try doing a Google search on "Welfare to Work Partnership" if it's still broken...]

Welfare to Work Sites - U.S. Dept. of Labor

The Wellesley Institute

An Ambitious Plan to Reform US Health Care
July 16, 2009
By Matt Kanter
Recently, Democrats in the US House of Representatives unveiled a 1,018 page health reform package, entitled "America's Affordable Health Choices Act," which was based on the requirements set out by President Obama to lower health care costs, let people kept their current insurance and substantially decrease the number of uninsured Americans (currently estimated at 45.7 million).
[ Full text of the bill (PDF - 1.7MB, 1018 pages) ]
[ Summary of the bill's provisions (PDF - 464K, 35 pages) ]

The proposal is very similar to, and builds on, the groundbreaking health care reforms implemented in Massachusetts in 2006 and 2008 (PDF - 259K, 28 pages)
The House Democrats seem to have learned the lessons, both positive and negative, from the Massachusetts reforms.

Wellesley Institute Blog


Family homelessness hits 20-year high in NYC
July 23, 2007
By Michael Shapcott
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2004 plan to cut homelessness in the Big Apple by two-thirds produced an almost immediate decline in the number of people in homeless shelters. But the latest numbers show a sharp upward spike to the highest number of homeless families in two decades. All the details are available from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and you can read more details from the New York City Coalition for the Homeless.
The Wellesley Institute Blog

Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)

National Study Compares Cost of Living for Working Families in 10 Communities
~ Across America, Minimum Wage Meets an Average of Just 34% of a Family’s Basic Needs~

Press Release (PDF file - 170K, 3 pages)
July 22, 2004
"Washington, DC – The federal minimum wage provides far too little income for a family to make ends meet in communities across the country, according to a new study released today. The report by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) examines the cost of living and working in 10 areas of the nation and finds that a fully employed parent with two children cannot come close to making ends meet earning the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. The report finds that even with earnings of $12 per hour, family wages on average covered only 72 percent of basic living costs."

Complete Report:
Coming up Short: A Comparison of Wages and Work Supports in 10 American Communities
(PDF file - 212K, 8 pages)
Appendix with Tables (PDF file - 267K, 13 pages)
How Work Supports Impact Family Budgets: An Analysis of the Interaction of Public Policies and Wages (PDF file - 642K, 37 pages)
Statement by Senator Edward Kennedy (PDF file - 89K, 1 page)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Comparison of Canadian and American health care systems
Government and private health and public policy analysts have compared the health care systems of Canada and the United States. The U.S. spends much more on health care than Canada, both on a per-capita basis and as a percentage of GDP. In 2006, per-capita spending for health care in the U.S. was US$6,714; in Canada, US$3,678. The U.S. spent 15.3% of GDP on health care in that year; Canada spent 10.0%. In 2006, 70% of health care spending in Canada was financed by government, versus 46% in the United States. Total government spending per capita in the U.S. on health care was 23% higher than Canadian government spending, and U.S. government expenditure on health care was just under 83% of total Canadian spending (public and private).
1. Click "External Links" on the Wikipedia page for comparisons of several aspects of health insurance in Canada and the U.S. (e.g. insurance coverage, wait times)
2. Click "References"on the Wikipedia page for a collection of links to dozens and dozens of free online resources.

Working Poor Families Project (WPFP)
The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) was launched in 2002 by national philanthropic leaders who saw the need to strengthen state policies affecting these working families.

About the Working Poor Families Project

WPFP Reports and Publications

Sample reports:

Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short
"The American Dream is grounded in the belief that hard work leads to economic advancement and self-sufficiency. Today, the stark reality is that too many American families, despite working hard, earn incomes too low to achieve economic security. The statistics paint a troubling picture:
* More than one out of four working families with children is low-income. In all, a total of 42 million adults and children struggle to get by.
* The number of low-income working families increased by 350,000 between 2002 and 2006.
* Income inequality among working families increased by almost 10 percent from 2002 to 2006."
- includes links to :
Overview - State by State Data - Key State Findings - Maps - Myths and Facts - Call for Action

America’s Working Families Continue to Fall Behind
New Report Finds One in Four Working Families are Low-Income
October 14, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than one in four working families – a total of 42 million adults and children – are low-income, earning too little to meet their basic needs, according to a new report. “Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short,” a follow-up to the 2004 report “Working Hard, Falling Short,” found that an additional 350,000 working families were low-income in 2006 compared to 2002. The report also found increasing income inequality, with a widening gap between the share of income the highest-earning families receive and that earned by the least affluent. This increase in income disparity and in the number of low-income working families came during a period of economic expansion, suggesting that those numbers will continue to grow during this economic downturn.

Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short (PDF - 750K, 8 pages)
New findings on the challenges confronting America's working families
Dated October 2008

World Socialist Website

New Bush administration rules slash overtime pay for millions of workers
By John Levine
August 28, 2004
"The Department of Labor’s 'FairPay 'rules came into effect August 23, taking away the right to overtime compensation for millions of workers. Congress allowed the rule changes to take effect in a vote July 10 in the House of Representatives, which defeated a measure to stop the new rules, by a margin of 213 to 210. The rules will impact almost every workplace, dramatically reducing the scope of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, one of the few social reforms remaining from the New Deal period. The Bush administration action highlights the impunity with which big business feels it can treat American workers, as long as the working class remains subordinated to the trade union bureaucracy and the Democratic Party."

Working Assets "is a long distance, wireless, credit card and broadcasting company that was created to build a world that is more just, humane and environmentally sustainable. Since Working Assets was created in 1985, the company has raised $35 million by helping people make a difference in the world through progressive philanthropy and political activism. Working Assets donates a portion of its revenue to nonprofit groups working for peace, human rights, equality, education and the environment. The company also acts as a strong political force, dedicated to giving its customers the opportunity to speak out on critical public issues."

Schwarzenegger just acts like he cares for the poor
Scripted campaign over, Arnold now aims to balance budget on backs of those who can least afford it

January 15, 2004
Robert Scheer (Creators Syndicate)
WorkingForChange - an online journal of progressive news and opinion published by Working Assets.

World Hunger Year (WHY)
"WHY is an American not-for-profit registered organization that advances long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. It does so by supporting community-based organizations that empower individuals and build self-reliance, i.e., offering job training, education and after school programs; increasing access to housing and healthcare; providing microcredit and entrepreneurial opportunities; teaching people to grow their own food; and assisting small farmers. WHY connects these organizations to funders, media and legislators."

Yahoo U.S. Full Coverage
Welfare Reform :
- includes links to recent media coverage, editorials, related websites
YahooNews World Full Coverage - Poverty
- US and international online news, magazine articles, opinions and editorials, related websites and much more.

ZNET - A community of people committed to social change (U.S.-based, international)
- incl. "Come to Canada" (The G8 Events - Extensive G8 Coverage - Starhawk: A Strategic Moment - Take the Capital - Ontario IndyMedia)

ZNET Watch Sites (U.S.-based, international)
- incl. links to : Activism Watch - Africa Watch - Alt. Media Watch - Anarchy Watch - Chiapas Watch - Colombia Watch - East Timor Watch - Economy Watch - Foreign Policy Watch - Gender Watch - Global Watch - Global Economics Watch - Iraq Watch - Ireland Watch - Japan Watch - Labor Watch - Latin America Watch - Mainstream Media Watch - Mideast Watch - Mumia Watch - Native Watch - Pacifica Watch - Queer Watch - Race Watch - South Asia Watch - Strategy/Vision Watch - Third Party Watch - Youth Watch

Related Canadian Social Research Links pages:

American Non-Government Social Research Links (A-J)
American Government Social Research Links
Poverty Measures
Children and Families - International
Social Research Statistics


Search the Web Search Canadian Social Research Links Only
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