There is a sea of statistics out there. Sometimes you get more out of a report by focusing on one simple finding.
41% Of US Women Live in Poverty or on The Edge
40% is clearly a huge portion of anything.
Then your mind focuses on the second part. We’re not talking about women around the world: This is about women in the US, the leading economic power in the world.
Finally, you think: What does “on the Edge” mean? Short answer: It refers to an analytically rigorous and localized measure of poverty that better reflects the real economic situation of people in the US. In the sentence above it means that 41% of women live in households with incomes below the level needed for meeting basic needs plus modest savings for emergencies and retirement.
In case you are wondering: 36% of men and 55% of children in the US are in that same leaky boat of economic insecurity
And just to share a finding that will surprise many: The percent of white children above the economic security line dropped by 9% between 2007 and 2011, the biggest drop of any group in the study.
WORTH THE TIME
The report itself, published by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), is only 12 pages long and is very readable. It describes the make up of The Basic Economic Security Tables TM (BEST) Index, developed by WOW and the Center for Social Development at Washington University. It also obviously gives deeper dive information about the findings.
But a big hand of applause to them for keeping the forest clearly in mind while studying the trees. The report notes:
That nearly 40% of the nation’s adults and 45% of adults and their children lack basic economic security incomes suggests that the nation’s economic middle is not very broad and may not, in fact, exist.
WHY THAT MATTERS
We frequently fail to make progress because of political differences. But the Middle Class is something on which everyone agrees. People across parties honor the middle class and its role in the strength of the country. If that trusted and valued group is eroding, it is clearly not because of laziness or character flaws — issues to which some people attribute persistent poverty. Perhaps seeing the dramatic prevalence of economic insecurity in our society will motivate more innovation and action on both the causes and effects of this widespread pain.
The cool Map illustration of the world as it would look if areas reflected Gross National Incomes is from Worldmapper.org
The perilous road illustrating the insecurity of living on the edge, is the so-called “Most Dangerous Road in the World” in Bolivia.