Understanding the dynamics of $2-a-day poverty in the United States

H. Luke Shaefer, Kathryn Edin, Elizabeth Talbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Shaefer and Edin (2013) have found a large rise in “extreme poverty”-defined as cash income of no more than $2 per person per day, for a month or calendar quarter-among U.S. households with children between 1996 and 2011. This article explores some underlying dynamics of this phenomenon, referred to here as “$2-a-day poverty,” presenting evidence from both qualitative fieldwork and quantitative analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The rise in $2-a-day poverty has been concentrated among children experiencing it chronically-that is, for seven or more months during a calendar year. Both qualitative and quantitative evidence find that a large majority of children experiencing $2-a-day poverty live in households where an adult worked during the year, while only a small proportion live in households accessing TANF. Finally, households experiencing $2-a-day poverty appear to be more likely to face material hardships than other low-income households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-138
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Low-wage work
  • Material hardship
  • Poverty
  • Social policy
  • Welfare


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the dynamics of $2-a-day poverty in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this