Unit VI. Social Inequalities
Examining Poverty Using the Institute for Poverty Research and the Census
DescriptionThis exercise involves using two websites to gain an understanding of how poverty is defined and measured and to see what the rates of poverty are in your county.
Learning Goals1. To understand how poverty is defined and measured.
2. To see how much poverty there is in your county.
Things NeededInternet access.Back to top
- Go to The Institute for Poverty Research’s website.
- Click on FAQ’s
- Then click on 2. How is Poverty Measured in the United States?
Answer the following questions:
1. How poverty is measured? Explain as thoroughly as possible.
2. Given the definition of poverty, how would being below the poverty level affect someone’s life?
Now examine the poverty statistics for your county.
- Go to the U.S. Census Bureau's Factfinder.
- Click on Data Sets
- Scroll down and select "Decennial Census," and then select the "Census 2000 Summary File 4 (SF 4) - Sample Data"
- A side list should appear that says “select from the following.” Click on "Quick Tables."
- On the menu, go to the second choice, “select a geographic type,” and select county.
- Next select your home state. (If you are an international student, please select the state and county where your school, college, or university is located.)
- Then select your home county, and click "Add"
- After it appears in the box below, click "Next."
- Scroll down to QT-P35, "Poverty Status in 1999 of Families." Click the box "Add" to select that table. Click the "Next" button. Click “Total Population.” Click “Add.” Click “Show Result.” You can see the percent below the poverty level for different families. This will be the last percentage under the heading “families.” Note that the first two rows show the breakdown for families below the poverty line with children under 18 and children under 5.
1. First report what the poverty level is, then answer the following questions:3. What factors in your area do you think contribute to the amount of poverty there?
2. Were you surprised by your findings? Why or why not?
More InformationIf you want to learn more about what it is like to live below the poverty line, read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. 2001. New York: Henry Holt/Metropolitan/Owl Book.Back to top
Jennifer Gerdes, January, 2008, inspired by Bob Greene.