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Ch 13 Handouts - INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL WORK 1 BECOMING A...

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2/15/2009 1 I NTRODUCTION TO S OCIAL W ORK B ECOMING A C HANGE A GENT Poverty and Economic Disparity 1 | The United States is the most technologically and economically advanced country in the world, but one must have enough economic resources to take advantage of many of the conveniences that are available. 2 D EFINING P OVERTY | Defining poverty and determining who is poor is complicated. | Personal and social values play a large role in making these decisions making these decisions. 3
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2/15/2009 2 D EFINING P OVERTY There are two general approaches to defining poverty: | Absolute poverty y Uses a dollar value that is firmly set; anyone who earns less than that amount is officially categorized as poor. y An absolute line is easier to use than a changeable relative comparison. | Relative poverty y Uses comparisons to determine who is poor and who is not. y A relative scale begins with agreement about the level of economic resources the average person should have, then compares people against that standard to determine who has enough. 4 DEFINING POVERTY The Official Definition of Poverty | The definition of poverty used by federal and state governments is an absolute measure that is referred to as the poverty threshold or poverty line line. | Although there was an attempt to make the threshold objective and scientific, many assumptions went into initially developing the poverty line. | It continues to be controversial today, with some arguing it is too generous, and others that it is not generous enough. 5 Poverty Threshold | Set by the Census Bureau – used for statistical purposes | DHHS sets poverty guidelines based on Census Bureau thresholds that do not reflect differences in the cost of living from state to state. | 1963 threshold for a family of 4 - $3100, adjusted for inflation over the years, 2008 guideline for the same family is $21,200 | Threshold is controversial – some argue too high because it leaves out benefits, others too low because it is based on a minimum diet for survival over a short period NOT for growth and development over time.
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2/15/2009 3 | Despite the differences of opinion, the absolute standard is the ONLY official measure of poverty that is used to determine the extent of poverty and to establish guidelines for program eligibility WHO IS POOR IN AMERICA? | According to the Census Bureau, 36.5 million people, or 12.3% of the population of the U.S. were living in poverty in 2006. People living in poverty are more likely to be | children and living with a single adult female. | The juvenilization of poverty describes the tendency for children to be overrepresented among the poor, and the feminization of poverty refers to the fact that women are more likely to be poor than men. 8 | The rate of poverty for children since the 1970’s has been consistently higher than the poverty rate for the overall population with almost one child in every six living in poverty.
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2/15/2009 4 THE CAUSES OF POVERTY | There are a number of theories as to why people are poor, some focusing on the individual and others on structural causes.
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