“In early 2011, 1.5 million households with roughly 3 million children were surviving on cash incomes of no more than $2 per person, per day in any given month. That’s about one out of every twenty-five families with children in America. What’s more, not only were these figures astoundingly high, but the phenomenon of $2-a-day poverty among households with children had been on the rise since the nation’s landmark welfare reform legislation was passed in1996-and at a distressingly fast pace. As of 2011, the number of families in $2-a-day poverty had more than doubled in just a decade and a half” (xvii).
Since the 1990s, Professor Kathryn Edin has been researching poverty in America, but was struck at how much worse off families were in 2010 than they had been while she was canvassing fifteen years before. What had changed? She teamed up with Luke Shaefer, a researcher at the National Poverty Center and leading expert on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and was shocked to find her observations of worsening conditions proven correct with the surveys and statistics to back them up. After close collaboration their findings have been recorded in this slim but powerful tome, challenging readers to re-assess everything they thought they knew about welfare and the hidden poor in America.
Enid and Shaefer take the reader back to welfare’s inception and then painstakingly pin-point the moment its drawn-out death gurgles began. Featuring intimate portraits of the working poor, the authors draw back the proverbial curtain, exposing new evidence to feed the national debate on income inequality. While the subject matter isn’t light by any means, the book is well edited and presented in a way to make it easy to understand. Nearly twenty pages of footnotes and citations are included, perfect for those who enjoy fact-checking or exploring further research.