HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in…
Loading...

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2015)

by Kathryn J. Edin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2411347,848 (3.98)27

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Educational book but sometimes confusing Politicians and regular people rail on those "welfare queens" who are clearly buying steak and lobster with their SNAP benefits and iPads and new shoes with their welfare checks, etc. This book seeks to dispel some of those issues and show what it's like to live in poverty.
 
Much of this was a maddening read. The change in welfare benefits (including the hoops you have to jump through to be approved), the poverty one is surrounded by (including the lack of opportunities), the various roadblocks that make it difficult (affordable childcare so a parent can work a full-time job), etc. are all covered by the various stories told in this book.
 
Honestly, I felt the book was really repetitive. They tell the stories of various people living in poverty but it felt like it was the same story told from different viewpoints by different people shoved into an academic thesis. There's a lot to learn here: the history of welfare benefits, the changes it went through, the perceptions that have changed, how politicians have changed the system, etc. But it's confusing because we switch back and forth of the various stories of people plus the history.
 
There is a lot of important information here on how difficult it can be to climb out of the hole once you're in it. No matter how well-meaning you are or how hard you work, there are many, MANY roadblocks, cracks, ways to trip over yourself. Some of it is indeed by the choices of the people in the book. BUT the system really doesn't help, nor does the economy by the lack of well-paying jobs that allows someone to live above the poverty line, pay for childcare, pursue more education, etc. Some of these people are genuinely trapped and it's not necessarily solely through their own choices.
 
This is a relatively short book, but I still found it quite hard to read. A book that I found a lot more readable was Linda Tirado's 'Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America' which covers her own struggles. People who think that these people are in this position COMPLETELY of their own choices should read this. As it's told from her POV, she talks about some of the reasons why and how she made the choices she did. It was a good read and personally would recommend it over this one. If you do read this book, recommend the library.
  ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
When conducting research in 2010, Edin, who had been researching poverty for 20 years noticed a fundamental change in many families she interviewed—they were living without any visible cash income. In the summer of 2012, Edin joined forces with Shaefer, a leading expert on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and they started in-depth studies of families living on $2.00 per person per day (or less) in four areas (Chicago, Cleveland, Johnson City (TN), and rural communities in the Mississippi Delta). $2.00 per day is a metric of global poverty used by the World Bank. (As a point of reference, the U.S. government’s metric for deep poverty was approximately $8.30 per day in 2011.) This book explores how families live in $2.00 a day poverty, the factors contributing to the increase in this new level of poverty, and the challenges of living with little-to-no cash income. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of a difficult topic that includes personal accounts and statistical analysis that is sobering and compelling. Readers of Barbara Enhrenreich’s book "Nickel and Dimed" and those interested in issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness are likely to appreciate this book.

Rachel H. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
Back in the 1980's Ronald Reagan popularized the myth of the welfare queen. In the 1990's, Bill Clinton "reformed" welfare, so that very few people would receive assistance in the form of cash. Now, most welfare assistance is received in the form of SNAP, aka food stamps. By 2011, the number of families living on $2.00 a day had doubled in 15 years. Even including the benefits of food stamps, the number of children living in $2.00 a day poverty has increased by 70%.

In this book Edin mixes the personal stories of families living in poverty with political history and analysis. Some salient points are the difficulties that people who have no cash have in finding a job--from lacking a telephone to respond to job enquiries, to lacking decent clothes for a job interview, to lacking transportation to get to the job. The people finding themselves in this position use their ingenuity to raise the funds to pay the rent--they sell their blood, if they are healthy enough. If they have transportation and a storage place, they collect cans and bottles to sell for recycling. One woman in the Mississippi Delta who lives in a housing project in a remote country area pays a friend to bring her to a grocery once a month where she buys supplies to set up a "snack shop" in her living room, where she sells Kool Aid, chips and other snacks at a small profit to other residents of the project. And, it is true that some recipients of food stamps resort to selling all or part of them for cash. Edin finds this to be an unsurprising result of the move to remove cash from welfare benefits--while the food stamps provide a basic level of food for sustenance, there are other expenses, like rent, for which cash is necessary. The food stamp recipient takes a big risk in trading some of the benefits for cash (it's harder now that what the recipients actually receive is something akin to a debit card that can be used for food), and receives a low return--perhaps 50%-60% of the value of the goods purchased with the card, and a potential fine of $250,000 and 20 years in jail. (Note the punishment for voluntary manslaughter is usually around 9 years.)

Together with Evicted, which I read earlier this year, this book is an eye-opening look at what it means to live in poverty in this day and age. Highly recommended.

3 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 21, 2017 |
Poverty in America is horrific. Greed from employers paying low wages and greed from landlords has made a never ending cycle of poverty. I found the book to be a excellent read that moves at a good pace. ( )
  caanderson | Sep 10, 2017 |
Vignettes of various individuals and families struggling to pursue meaningful employment and basic comforts, living on very, very little money. ( )
  ddb07 | Sep 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
From the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, a number of developments turned out to have profound effects on destitute families in the United States, which Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer’s “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America” brings into sharp relief. Critics of welfare repeatedly argued that the increase of unwed mothers was mainly due to rising rates of welfare payments through Aid to Families With Dependent Children (A.F.D.C.). Even though the ­scientific ­evidence offered little support for this claim, the public’s outrage against the program, fueled by the “welfare queen” stereotype that Ronald Reagan peddled in stump speeches during his 1976 run for the presidency, led to calls for a major revamping of the welfare system.

In 1993, Bill Clinton and his advisers began a discussion of welfare reform that was designed to “make work pay,” a phrase coined by the Harvard economist David Ellwood in his 1988 book “Poor Support.” Ellwood, one of Clinton’s advisers, argued that to ease the transition from welfare to work, it would be necessary to provide training and job placement assistance; to help local government create public-sector jobs when private-sector jobs were lacking; and to develop child care programs for working parents. President Clinton’s early welfare-reform proposal included these features, as well as ­another component that Ellwood submitted — time limits on the receipt of welfare once these provisions were in place.

Republicans, however, seizing control of Congress in 1994, devised a bill that ­reflected their own vision of welfare ­reform. Designed as a block grant, giving states considerably more latitude in how they spent government money for welfare than A.F.D.C. permitted, the Republican bill also included a five-year lifetime limit on benefits based on federal funds. States were allowed to impose even shorter time limits. Although the bill increased child care subsidies for recipients who found jobs, the all-important public-­sector jobs for those unable to find employment in the private sector were missing. Moreover, there wasn’t enough budgeted for education and training. Much to the chagrin of the bill’s critics — including Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who predicted in 1995 that the proposed ­legislation would lead to poor children “sleeping on grates” — President Clinton signed the bill, called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), on Aug. 22, 1996, two days after his signing into law the first increase in the federal minimum wage in five years.

In the immediate years following the passing of welfare reform, supporters of TANF argued that Moynihan and other critics were proved wrong. The number of single mothers who exited welfare and found work exceeded all expectations; child poverty rates fell; the expansion of the earned-income tax credit, a wage subsidy for the working poor, combined with the 1996 increase in the minimum wage and the additional availability of dollars for child care (as long as the parents were employed), boosted government provisions for working-poor families.

Timing, though, had something to do with the apparent success of welfare reform. The tight labor market during the economic boom of the late 1990s significantly lowered unemployment at the very time that TANF was being implemented. Besides, despite improvements for the working poor, studies revealed that the number of “disconnected” single mothers — neither working nor on welfare — had grown substantially since the passage of TANF, rising to one in five single mothers during the mid-2000s. This is the group featured in “$2.00 a Day,” a remarkable book that could very well change the way we think about extreme poverty in the United States.

When Edin returned to the field in the summer of 2010 to update her earlier work on poor mothers, she was surprised to find a number of families struggling “with no visible means of cash income from any source.” To ascertain whether her observations reflected a greater reality, Edin turned to Shaefer, a University of Michigan expert on the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, who was visiting Harvard for a semester while she was a faculty member. (Edin and I served on three dissertation committees together; she is now a professor at Johns Hopkins.) Shaefer analyzed the census data, which is based on annual interviews with tens of thousands of American households, to determine the growth of the virtually cashless poor since welfare reform. His results were shocking: Since the passage of TANF in 1996, the number of families living in $2-a-day poverty had more than doubled, reaching 1.5 million households in early 2011. Edin and Shaefer found additional evidence for the rise of such poverty in reports from the nation’s food banks and government data on families receiving food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and in accounts from the nation’s schools on the rising numbers of homeless children.

In the summer of 2012, the authors also began ethnographic studies in sites across the country: Chicago, Cleveland, a midsize city in the Appalachian region and small rural villages in the ­Mississippi ­Delta. In each of these areas it did not prove difficult to find families surviving on cash incomes of no more than $2 per person, per day during certain periods of the year.

Edin and Shaefer’s field research provides plausible reasons for the sharp rise in destitute families. The first has to do with the “perilous world of low-wage work.” The mechanization of ­agriculture has wiped out a lot of jobs in the Mississippi Delta, and even in cities like Chicago, the number of applicants for entry-level work in the service and retail industries far exceeds the number of available positions: “Companies such as Walmart might have hundreds of ­applicants to choose from” for any one position. ­Moreover, work schedules are often unpredictable, with abrupt ups and downs in the number of hours a worker gets. Responding to decreasing demand, “employers keep employees on the payroll but reduce their scheduled hours, sometimes even to zero.”

Furthermore, given the glut of applicants, an employer can quickly move to the next person on the list if a job seeker can’t be reached by telephone immediately, which is a real problem for those who live in homeless shelters and lack cellphones. Finally, many applicants who are eligible for TANF aren’t even aware that it is available. The authors meet people who “thought they just weren’t giving it out anymore.”

There are various strategies that the $2-a-day poor use to survive — from taking advantage of public libraries, food pantries and homeless shelters to collecting aluminum cans and donating plasma for cash. Still, in small Delta towns “the nearest food pantry is often miles away, despite the sky-high poverty.” SNAP constitutes the only real safety net program available to the truly destitute — but it cannot be used to pay the rent. “While SNAP may stave off some hardship,” the authors write, “it doesn’t help families exit the trap of extreme destitution like cash might.”

All of the $2-a-day families highlighted by Edin and Shaefer have had to double up with kin and friends at various times because their earnings were insufficient to maintain their own home. Some had to endure verbal, physical and sexual abuse in these dwellings, and the ensuing trauma sometimes precipitated a family’s fall into severe poverty.

This essential book is a call to action, and one hopes it will accomplish what ­Michael Harrington’s “The Other America” achieved in the 1960s — arousing both the nation’s consciousness and conscience about the plight of a growing number of invisible citizens. The rise of such absolute poverty since the passage of welfare reform belies all the categorical talk about opportunity and the American dream.
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To our children,
Bridget, Kaitlin, Marisa, and Michael
First words
Deep in the south side of Chicago, far from the ever-evolving steel skyline of America's third-largest city, sits a small, story-and-a-half white clapboard house clad in peeling paint.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544303180, Hardcover)

A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists

Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. 
  
After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 
  
Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 
  
The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. 
 
 
 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:44:00 -0400)

"A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don't think it exists. Jessica Compton's family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn't seen since the mid-1990s -- households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has "turned sociology upside down" (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich -- and truthful -- interviews. Through the book's many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America's extreme poor. More than a powerful expose, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. "--… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.98)
0.5
1
1.5
2 2
2.5 1
3 7
3.5 6
4 26
4.5 7
5 11

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 127,293,412 books! | Top bar: Always visible