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Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations

Despite robust growth in real per capita GDP over the last three decades, the U.S. poverty rate has changed very little. In an effort to better understand this disconnect, we document and quantify the relationship between poverty and four different factors that may affect poverty and its evolution over time: labor market opportunities, family structure, anti-poverty programs, and immigration. We find that the relationship between the macro-economy and poverty has weakened over time. Nevertheless, changes in labor market opportunities predict changes in the poverty rate rather well. We also find that changes in female labor supply should have reduced poverty, but was counteracted by an increase in the rate of female headship. Changes in the number and composition of immigrants and changes in the generosity of anti-poverty programs seem to have had little effect.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11681.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Publication status: published as Hoynes, Hilary W., Marianne E. Page and Ann Huff Stevens. "Poverty In America: Trends and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2006, v20(1,Winter), 47-68.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11681
Note: LS PE
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  9. Baicker, Katherine, 2005. "The spillover effects of state spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 529-544, February.
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  11. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  12. Hilary Hoynes & Marianne Page & Ann Stevens, 2005. "Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 11681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
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  24. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
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