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Free Content Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations

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Despite robust growth in real GDP per capita in the last three decades, U.S. poverty rates have changed very little. We summarize some basic facts about poverty in the United States, relying on a combination of previously published data from the Census Bureau and our own tabulations based on Current Population Survey data. We then discuss and evaluate four determinants of changes in the poverty rate that have been advanced in the literature: the impact of labor market opportunities; the role of changes in family structure; the role played by government antipoverty programs; and the role of immigration.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-12-01

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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