Poverty- not always what it appears to be

Look up the poverty level in the US and you will find different percentages and even different definitions of poverty. Who is in poverty and for how long varies greatly. When we think of people in poverty, we may think of a life mired in poverty. Those in such poverty are relatively few. Periods of poverty are far more common.

Mention poverty and senior citizens come to mind as a high poverty group. That’s not accurate either.

Chronic Poverty Across age groups, shorter poverty spells were much more common than multi-year poverty spells between 2013 and 2016. Chronic poverty describes individuals in poverty for all months of the 2013-2016 period studied.

As a result, the chronically poor are also captured within the episodically poor, as they have more than two consecutive months in poverty.    

As with episodic poverty, children also had the highest chronic poverty rate (4.6%) among all three age groups from 2013 to 2016. The chronic poverty rate for seniors was 1.5%, the lowest among all age groups, and 2.4% for working-age adults.

Source: Children Experienced Episodic Poverty at Higher Rate Than Adults


  1. The title of the report was “Seniors and Children Typically Remained in Poverty Longer Than Working-Age Adults”. On the surface it appears as a data driven report rather an agenda driven report when reading the link report.
    But I have just one question. If children remain in poverty longer than working-age adults, then shouldn’t their parents or parent also be in poverty too? Or have we become a nation of child labor and they counted only the children who are out working on their own? So maybe this is also an agenda driven report.


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