Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor

The Census Bureau’s annual poverty report presents a misleading picture of poverty in the United States. Few of the 46.2 million people identified by the Census Bureau as being “in poverty” are what most Americans would consider poor—lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, or clothing. The typical “poor” American lives in an air-conditioned house or apartment and has cable TV, a car, multiple color TVs, a DVD player, and a VCR among other conveniences. While some of the poor face significant material hardship, formulating a sound, long-term anti-poverty policy that addresses the causes as well as the symptoms of poverty will require honest and accurate information. Exaggerating the extent and severity of hardships will not benefit society, the taxpayers, or the poor.

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