Poverty in America — it’s not what you think.

As our presidential candidates debate the issues, what will they say about Poverty in America? And how do they plan to address the problem?

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The Line is an important documentary that cover the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me. Across America, millions are struggling every day to make it above The Line.

Poverty is a drag on the economy that also affects the cost of healthcare, as I’ve written before in this blog.


People often talk about the widening income & wealth gap, but for people below the poverty line, there’s an Opportunity gap as portrayed in the video. Here are some of the statistics I gathered from the video and from our description of the Healthcare Problem & Market Opportunity.

  • The U.S. Census bureau defines the poverty line as $23,000 for a family of four.
  • 46 million Americans live in poverty, which is over 16% of the 280M total population.
  • That’s the third highest rate in the developed world, behind only Turkey & Mexico.
  • 25% of our children live in poverty – shameful for the richest nation in the world.
  • Over 7 million adults work two or more jobs just to make ends meet.
  • 1 in 3 workers have low-wage jobs that cannot keep a family of four above the line.
  • The working poor are twice as likely to give up sleep in order to work.
  • 40% of seniors are low-income (below 150% of poverty level) and need public assistance.
  • There’s a direct relationship between poverty and obesity, as described in America’s Obesity Epidemic.
    • Disadvantaged communities are at higher risk for many preventable health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C, and infant mortality.
    • That’s partially due to the lack of fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices and the lack of sidewalks and parks that encourage exercise.
    • Pressures from Job, Money, Divorce and Violence cause a vicious cycle of Stress = Obesity = Stress … (Exercise helps relieve that stress.)
    • Public health officials can accurately predict obesity rates by zip code and have noticed average lifespan differences of over 20 years between poor neighborhoods on one side of town and affluent ones on the other.
  • About Poor Women (living below the poverty line)
    • Over 24M Women were poor in 2009 (US Census)
    • Single Mothers are TWICE as likely to be poor as single Fathers (AmericanProgress.org)
    • Women make on average $0.77 for every dollar a man makes (US Census)
    • 27.5% of Black women were poor in 2009, versus 27.4% of Hispanic and 13.5% of White women (US Census)
    • Women are more likely to be poor than men across all racial & ethnic groups (AmericanProgress.org)
    • Elderly Women are more likely to be poor than elderly men. In 2008, 13% of women over 75 were poor, compared to 6% of men over 75. (AmericanProgress.org)
    • In 2008, 54% of poor women were SINGLE without dependent children (AmericanProgress.org)
    • Poor Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Depresion and other mental health disorders (American Psychological Association)
    • 54% of women ages 18-34 have struggled to afford Birth Control at some point (The Daily Kos)
    • Poor women are more likely to experience postpartum depression and to deliver premature babies (American Psychological Association)

2 thoughts on “Poverty in America — it’s not what you think.

  1. Premature babies need a lot of care and attention after leaving the womb so this is why we give thanks to the world of modern technology and to all the life saving masters in the medical profession that nurture our before-time babies with their knowledge, thus increasing the odds for their survival. Hospitals today are well equipped to deal with emergencies like early births. The welfare of the premature baby is first and foremost in all hospital maternity wards.The reasons given behind why a woman may go into labour earlier than anticipated are all health related factors e.g. smoking-poor diet-infections-twins-cervical ineptitude and other conditions that can be life threatening such as pre-eclampsia. All of these can speed up the process where premature baby births are likely.


      United Nations journey finds that America is a land of both Great Wealth and EXTREME POVERTY (The Guardian)

      This Tax Bill Is a Trillion-Dollar Blunder.” (Billionaire Michael Bloomberg tells us why)

      U.S. life expectancy varies by more than 20 years from county to county (Washington Post, 5/8/2017)

      The Decline of the Middle Class: Stealth Governance and Income Inequality (Huffington Post – on policies that widened the wealth gap)

      Inequality Kills — But What Can Medical Providers Do About It? (Huffington Post – on the health impact of poverty)

      Wealth Inequality, Healthcare and the Economy Excellent video infographic showing just how wide the wealth gap has gotten, with a documentary featuring former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explaining why.

      Watch this TED Talk about Poverty, asking “What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoRUrWcdkQ4

      Pop-up clinics trying to bridge America’s health divide — This excellent article from the guardian features mobile clinics serving southwest Virginia. It’s a telling expose’ of how the wealth divide applies to health and healthcare.

      Why do so many people lack access to fresh food? WFAA, an ABC affiliate

      My Reality: A Hidden America (an ABC News 20/20 report by Diane Sawyer, 1/13/2017)

      * $56,516 is the annual median household income in the United States. (US Census Bureau)
      * MOST (68%) of the country’s income growth since 1980 went to the top 10% of earners. (National Bureau of Economic Research)
      * NONE (0%) of the country’s income growth since 1980 went to the entire bottom half of earners. (National Bureau of Economic Research)
      * 117 Million Americans saw their income fall or keep up with inflation in almost four decades. That is half of the country. (National Bureau of Economic Research)
      * JUST 45% of middle-income millennials earn more than their parents did at the same age, adjusted for inflation. A half-century ago, 93% of middle income Americans earned more than their parents had. (National Bureau of Economic Research)
      * ONLY 50% of Americans are middle class. In 1971, it was 61%. (Pew Research Center)
      * 92 metro areas where lack affordable housing for families making a median household income. (Center for Housing Policy)
      * 53% of Americans say they don’t have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses if they lose their job. (Federal Reserve Survey, 2015)
      * 56% of the fastest growing new jobs pay under $12/hour, on average. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, analyzed by ABC News)
      * 73% of public assistance goes to working families (UC Berkeley Labor Center)

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