The Changing Face of Poverty in the U.S.: The Influence of Family Structure, Employment Patterns, and the Safety Net from 1967-2012

Liana Fox, Stockholm University
Christopher T. Wimer, Columbia University
Irwin Garfinkel, Columbia University
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University

Using a new historical measure of poverty, we find that poverty rates have declined modestly over the past 50 years, both overall and for children. However, these overall trends obscure changes in the demographics of families and individuals in poverty. This paper will take an in depth look at the changing face of poverty over the past 50 years as well as the role of family structure, employment patterns and governmental taxes and transfers in explaining these trends. We will examine how risk factors for poverty have changed over the past 50 years and whether certain demographic groups (single parent families, families with a non-employed adult) are more likely to fall into poverty today than in the past.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 149: Family and the Economy