Co-author, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America”
At the Social Development Commission’s recent Summit on Poverty, researcher Kathryn Edin spoke about a book she recently co-authored titled, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” which explores the consequences of welfare reform that was signed into law two decades ago. Edin and co-author Luke Shaefer explore several questions: How do households survive on virtually no cash income? Where do they live? Why don’t more go to work?
“(The) relationship between employees and employers has become so badly denigrated in the 20 years since welfare reform.”
“The next time people tell you there are two kinds of poor people—the working poor and the generational poor—tell them it’s time to go back to the drawing board. They are actually the same thing. Ninety percent of just plain poor children have an adult who worked.”
“Welfare has died not just numerically, but it died in the imagination of the poor. When hard times hit in a lot of places across our country, it doesn’t even occur to people to go to welfare’s door. Welfare has become completely unresponsive to economic need.”
“It turns out that across the country, the richest places have the richest charitable sectors and the poorest places have virtually no charitable sector at all. So private charities exacerbate, in some ways, rather than ameliorate inequality. But it’s also true that budgets of charities are a drop in the bucket compared to the need we’re talking about today.”
“The ultimate litmus test we endorse for any reform is whether it will serve to integrate the poor – particularly the $2-a-day poor – into society, rather than isolate them from it.”