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Unformatted text preview: REVIEW QUESTIONS SOCIAL PROBLEMS - EXAM 2 (R=Reading; L=Lecture) Poverty 1. How does the U.S. compare to other countries in terms of the American Human Development Index (HDI)? What are the recent trends in income inequality within the U.S.? What in the structure of U.S. society may be causing an increase in income inequality? What are the consequences of income inequality? (R) The American HDI is especially troubling because it puts all this economic gloom and doom in stark human terms. And the results are somewhat surprising: in good times as well as bad, in terms of aggregate health, education, purchasing power, security, and general wellbeing, we have been in decline . America was slipping well before our most recent downturn. Whereas during the 1980s we were consistently No. 2 (Switzerland occupied the top slot in 1980, while Canada did from 1985 to 1990), by the mid-1990s we had slipped to six. And by 2006, we had even fallen out of the top 10 into place 15. Income clearly doesnt capture every dimension, since the US still holds No. 2 in terms of income per capita. One large force underlies the problems of flat college completion rates, 50 million uninsured people, and wage stagnation of the bottom half, and that is income inequality . Income inequality has been rising since the 60s and is greater in the US than in any other developed country. Income inequality can matter for general health, knowledge and our shared standard of living, for several reasons. First, the more that Americans have vastly different economic means at their disposal, the harder it is to generate political support for investments that would raise all boats. Some scholars even posit that high inequality harms our health, as a result of the stress from relative deprivation and increases efforts to keep up with the Joneses. The observation that more unequal countries generally display worse health than more equal ones is not in dispute. Such high and rising degrees of inequality in the US as reflected in the HDI scores. Putting inequality in human development terms captures the costs to our collective future better than GDP, income or other abstract measures can, even in perilous economic times such as these. It is more of a matter of pulling the people o the bottom up, if we want ot be number one again. 2. What is absolute poverty ? What is relative poverty? (L) Absolute Poverty: lack of sufficient income to meet basic needs Relative poverty: poor compared to others 3. How does the U.S. government determine the poverty line ? What are the assumptions of this poverty index? What are the arguments that this measure underestimates poverty in the United States? What economic and social changes have rendered the poverty threshold outdated and inadequate, according to your reading? (L,R) US Poverty Line: 3x the average cost of food for a minimally nutritious diet given the number of family members o Essentially the same across the main part of the US, Hawaii and Alaska higher...
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- Spring '10