American Social Policy

Define poverty. Why is it so difficult to define poverty? What are some of the risk factors associated with poverty? Describe two key programs that serve individuals and families who are poor.


Reply 1 Lauryn 60 words


The book defines two measurements of poverty: absolute and relative. The absolute measure used a fixed predetermined amount below which people are defined as poor  (Segal, 2015) A relative measure of poverty used societal standards to assess the minimum needed for a reasonable living situation and anything less than that standard is considered poor  (Segal, 2015). The United States uses absolute measure to define poverty. It’s very difficult to define poverty because everyone has their own definition of what it means to be poor. What some might consider poor might not be to another person. There are several risk factors associated with poverty such as age, race, education, and gender. For example, a woman who has health issues, is not married and non-white who is older is going to be more likely to be in poverty, than a married, degree-holding young lady. However if you meet any two or more factors the chances of you going below the means are increased. Two programs that can help the poor are SNAP and food stamps. These programs help fund low income families which helps them provide food. You do have to qualify which is based on a qualifying range of income. Another program that helps assist low income people is TANF ( Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).This program provides cash grants to low income families to assist with paying for basic needs. The money is sent out onto a prepaid credit card or on an EBT card. The card can be used at an ATM and be used for whatever needs the person or family is looking for.The program does differ depending on the state you live in and there is a threshold of how many times a family can receive money from TANF.


Reply 2 Grady 60 words


It is difficult to define poverty because the definition of what makes someone poor is subjective and changes based on the time and place that people live in. For example, twenty years ago living without a smart phone with an expansive data plan would be considered the norm. Now, it is a basic part of most people’s lives, and to be without a phone with access to the internet would be devastating. Thus, I would personally define poverty as being unable to afford or access the basic necessities and resources that are needed to live a fulfilled, successful life. More practical definitions of poverty that are used to create policy are used based on two measurements, the absolute and relative measures of poverty. The absolute measure “uses a fixed, predetermined amount below which people are defined as poor,” whereas the relative measure is similar to my definition of poverty, in that certain standards are used “to assess the minimum needed for a reasonable living situation, and anything less than that standard is considered poor” (Segal, 2016, p. 181). Coming to a consensus on the definition of poverty is pivotal because living in a state of desperation and deprivation can have lifelong implications, both for the individual themselves and society at large. This can be seen from the impact of living poor on children. Living in poverty can lead to children having “poor health, lower educational attainment, dangerous living situations, and a greater likelihood of experiencing disadvantaged life outcomes” (Segal, 2016, p. 190).

Social welfare programs meant to address and alleviate poverty are generally placed into two categories: direct, cash assistance and in-kind benefits. One example of cash assistance is the Earned Income Tax Credit. This benefit is mainly directed at the working poor, as it is only eligible to those individuals with full-time jobs that file tax returns and have dependent children. If the family doesn’t make above a certain income level, then they earn a tax credit. If that credit is higher than the amount of tax they owe, then that family will earn extra cash. In practical terms, this played out in 2011 with “28 million taxpayers (receiving the EITC), with an average of $2,905 for families with children” (Segal, 2016, p. 198). In-kind benefits are delivered through goods and services to poor people. One such example is public, affordable housing that is provided by the government at all levels. Individuals that have a low income are eligible to live in public housing where rental charges are set to about thirty percent of their monthly income after taxes. A similar program is Section 8 housing, in which the government will provide vouchers to bring down the rent of a private rental unit to make it affordable for low income families and individuals. Similar to public housing, Section 8 policies ensure that these people only pay 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.


Discussion 2 (200 words) Textbook provided


According to the author of our textbook, major social welfare programs such as unemployment insurance, minimum wage, and the income tax credit are tied to economic conditions. Explain and discuss whether or not you feel this is true and defend your reasoning.