Poverty in America Causes
Poverty in America is not as easily understood as it is in other parts of the world. Most Americans do not identify with what is defined as poverty and consider being poor as lacking nutritious food, housing and clothing.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical poor American has access to basic needs and wants including a car, air conditioning, cable television and other amenities.

The overall poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.5 percent — 43.1 million people. The demographics for poverty in the U.S. are measured by the federal government’s poverty threshold. Many Americans working several jobs are considered to be in poverty as well as senior citizens with fixed incomes.

Leading Causes of Poverty in America

One of the main causes of poverty in America is the shrinking of the middle class. High-paying factory jobs are leaving the U.S. and the country’s growing population cannot be supported.

Americans are also falling into poverty due to debt and the fact that they owe more than they own. They continue to take out loans at high interest rates while in low income brackets.

The National Poverty Centre has found that poverty rates are higher for families headed by single women, particularly women who are black or Hispanic. The statistics also show that 14.8 percent of women are living in poverty overall. Additionally, 24.1 percent are African-Americans, 21.4 percent are Hispanics and 9.1 percent are Caucasians.

Since the economic downturn, poverty in America had not risen until 2015, when it increased by one percent more than it was in 2007, the year before the most recent recession. Poverty in America has seen an increase as a result of the 2008 economic downturn.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Israel
Israel’s economy is indisputably very strong. Despite being the size of New Jersey, the Jewish State has the second-most high-tech startups on Earth and has unemployment charting at 4.8 percent. While this data may be encouraging, the economic report fails to mention the issue of hunger in Israel.

The National Insurance Institute reported that almost a quarter of Israel’s population lives below the poverty line, putting this country among the poorest nations of all OECD countries. As many as a third of Israeli children are impoverished.

Along with staggering beggary, about 110,000 of the 444,000 poor Israeli families live day by day with a shortage of food supplies.

In light of these conditions, Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz passed an ambitious plan to tackle food insecurity in a situation starving for solutions.

The four-month-old National Food Security Program aims to combat hunger in Israel by granting subsidies to households with limited purchasing power. Households are deemed eligible if their income is near poverty levels — Israel’s Social Affairs Ministry will give $85 per month to families that qualify.

Katz’s lofty goals will not be palpable for a while. The National Nutritional Security Council, an advisory group within the Social Affairs Ministry, will only fund vouchers for around 20,000-25,000 families, leaving over 75,000 families without assistance.

The United States allocates $3.1 billion annually in foreign aid to the Jewish State, yet 100 percent of the funding goes to “peace and security.” In addition, 25 percent of Israel’s defense budget comes from American taxpayers.

Without allocating any funds to food security, the U.S. government announced in July that it will grant Israel “the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.”

Although evident why the requisite of renewing this military assistance must occur, the money’s allocation unfortunately neglects the 444,000 families who suffer from severe hunger in Israel.

Providing humanitarian aid to malnourished Israelis is not impossible. Americans who are keen to contact their elected officials can incite change towards improving Israel’s food insecurity.

Calling Congress can have a potentially huge impact on hunger in Israel. Legislators like Betty McCollum admit to being influenced by constituents when hundreds of them dial to enact legislation.

Famished families in Israel are not just hungry for food, they are ravenous for change. Investing in food security is investing in stability, and that stability can also help bolsters Israeli consumers in an American-dominated market.

Noah Levy

Photo: Flickr

Ways to Host Refugees AmericaIncreased media coverage of the global refugee crisis has prompted waves of humanitarian support and local activism across the world. Iceland made headlines when 10,000 of its citizens volunteered to house personally refugees coming from Syria, and others have followed suit in finding ways to host refugees, from Berlin to Birmingham.

Wondering about ways to host refugees in your home? Not everyone can personally provide housing, but below are three simple ways to get started in the effort to welcome refugees to America.

3 Ways to Host Refugees in America

  1. Become aware of local need. It’s easier than ever to become connected to relief and charitable organizations near you. Some of the largest and most wide-reaching of resettlement agencies in the United States are the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services, both of which organize humanitarian aid in over 100 U.S. cities. Spend some time reaching out to charitable organizations in your area to find out what their current needs are, who their clients are, and what types of schools, health or religious organizations work with them.
  2. Consider temporarily housing a refugee. Although refugees admitted to the United States for resettlement are usually quickly connected with local relief agencies, refugees are often vulnerable to unstable housing conditions or even homelessness. Several U.S. and international agencies are searching for individuals and families with extra rooms that they are willing to use to host recently arrived refugees, especially those in crisis or extreme circumstances. Connect with Room for Refugees, which specializes in providing safe temporary housing for refugees living in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe and Canada. The chance to personally share your home with a refugee can be immensely rewarding, and provide desperately needed help for those adjusting to life in a new place. Looking for ways to host refugees in your home? Search for organizations like the Karam Foundation, a nonprofit group providing aid for Syrians, which is currently seeking to help new refugees find housing with Americans of Syrian descent. Many private nonprofit organizations are seeking to connect refugees with a variety of services for temporary housing, and your opportunity to help could be as close as your front door.
  3. Consider ways to host refugees by connecting them with neighbors. Becoming a friend and neighbor to refugees struggling to resettle may be the most powerful way to combat hateful rhetoric, both in the U.S. and abroad. Agencies like the International Rescue Committee, among others, place a high priority on helping refugee families find friends, neighbors and support structures within their new communities. When the 2015 cap for U.S. resettlement of refugees was raised to 85,000 from 70,000, it prompted waves of polarization and xenophobia across the country. A Pew Research Center survey even showed that a majority of Americans disapprove of helping to resettle more Syrians within our borders. The International Rescue Committee, along with other agencies, regularly recruit home mentors for refugee families, providing you with the opportunity to welcome your new friends into your home, or you into theirs, as you solidify a new friendship.Other aid agencies are in constant need of home tutors, both for students struggling to adjust to life in American public schools, as well as adults returning to school or learning English as a second language.

    While in-kind and monetary donations of food, clothing, furniture and supplies can help a refugee family build a home, the chance to be a family mentor, tutor or friend may do more to help refugees feel like they belong.

The U.S. admits record numbers of refugees, but schools and government agencies still struggle to help refugees feel at home and safe. Helping to find ways to host refugees and opening your home, either literally or otherwise, is a critical opportunity to be part of solving the world’s worst refugee crisis in 70 years. More importantly, it’s a chance to help your neighbors know that they belong.

Eliza Campbell

Photo: U.N. Multimedia


If you are already poor and lacking cash, how do you pay for medical treatment? The answer is that there is a sizable chance that you cannot. In the United States, the biggest cause of bankruptcy is healthcare expenditures; in other words, people cannot pay their medical bills. What does this mean for countries who are not as well off as the United States?

In a country such as the United States, which is a rich, industrialized nation, a large number of people cannot afford medical treatments in part because of the soaring medical care costs and in part due to the system in place. Part of the problem, both in America and abroad, is that without insurance the out-of-pocket costs for healthcare can be huge. Being confronted with a huge lump sum to be paid after a medical service or good is received is often incredibly stressful and hard for many people. It strains the financial resources of the immediate family and leaves them having to decide between basic necessities and medical care–a choice no one should ever need to make. This effect is inevitable for the impoverished. It is already hard enough to save any money at all, let alone have an emergency fund for medical expenditures.

Novartis attempted to launch a new model of distributing and financing business with poorer families in India to address many of the concerns with existing healthcare distribution and payment systems. For example, to decrease the burden of out-of-pocket healthcare costs, Novartis began to distribute over-the-counter drugs in daily or multi-day packs rather than in larger quantities. This may seem trivial, but it actually began to work and eventually even turned a profit for the company–proving it to be a sustainable model. It worked because it allowed the out-of-pocket costs to be spread over a longer period of time for those who needed the drugs over multiple days or weeks while allowing those who only had a temporary need to get a quantity that fit their need most directly (one or two pills versus a large pack that cost much more). This benefits the people not only financially, but also physically. By distributing in smaller amounts and for proportionately smaller costs, this increases the likelihood that a sick person would seek to obtain medical care, knowing that the costs would be lower for sicknesses requiring only one or two pills to treat.

The Novartis example still doesn’t quite answer the question of how the poor pay for the healthcare costs they incur. The answer is that in many cases the poor will pay costs out-of-pocket, and endure financial hardships to do so. Another, possibly even worse method is to sell assets or borrow money to pay for the costs of healthcare. A study that looked at low- and middle-income countries that accounted for over 3 billion people found that approximately 25% of households borrowed money or sold assets to cover healthcare costs. While paying out-of-pocket is bad, needing to sell household items or borrow money can lead to even greater financial hardships over a longer period, in many situations.

Many developing countries lack the proper health infrastructure to provide for their populations at a reasonable cost that the local populace can afford. Even some developed countries such as the United States have trouble with these issues. The industry of healthcare is a complicated problem that involves a twisted entanglement of economics and human well-being in its most literal form.

Martin Yim

Sources: CNBC, Reuters, Health Affairs
Photo: Marketing and Women

Although the United States ranks among one of the richest nations in the world, poverty persists throughout the country. However, in the midst of the plenty, defining American poverty is an arduous task. When brand new model cars and upscale mansions dot city streets and suburbs, what exactly constitutes as poverty in the land of the rich and free?

According to the Institute for Research on Poverty, the federal poverty guideline (with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii) for a household in 2013 consisting of one individual is $11,490, while the threshold for a family of four is $23,550. The national poverty lines delineated by the federal government were initiated after the work of Mollie Orshansky, a statistician who worked with the Social Security System in the 1960’s.

Orshansky calculated the poverty level by estimating the average proportion of income that a family sets aside for groceries in conjunction with the average standard of living. Since the cost of food changes from year to year along with the socially-acceptable standard of living, the federal government adjusts Orshansky’s formula for calculating the annual poverty line by accounting for inflation.

Poverty guidelines provide the minimum income level in order to ascertain eligibility for federal poverty assistance programs such as Head Start for education, Food Stamps for sustenance, the National School Lunch Program for nutrition, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for energy costs. However, other programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families do not implement poverty guidelines when determining an individual’s or a family’s eligibility.

However, according to a 2007 Gallup poll, many Americans agree that $23,550 is not a sufficient measure of poverty for a family of four. According to Orshansky’s measure of poverty, the poverty guideline for a family of four today, should actually amount to $41,000, meaning that with current poverty guidelines, many Americans who are classified as above the poverty line are actually near or within poverty, but, by government standards, fail to quality for many assistance programs.

Despite government-initiated assistance programs, for the second consecutive year, the U.S. poverty rate hovered at 15 percent in 2013 according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, meaning that between 2012 and 2013, little progress at had been made in providing adequate relief for the estimated 46.5 million impoverished Americans. Quite dismayingly, roughly 34 percent (16 million) of the individuals living in poverty in the United States are children. Therefore, the poverty line must be recalibrated and reflect the true costs of living in America in order to initiate a substantial decline in the federal poverty rate.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Huffington Post, ASPE

Child Poverty in the United States
Today, when most people think of poverty they do not think of nations like the United States and the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, these two countries face serious problems regarding child poverty. Up to 20% of children in the U.S. live in poverty, while the United Kingdom faces some of the world’s highest child poverty rates. In spite of being two of the world’s wealthiest nations, both nations are struggling to address the causes of child poverty.


Leading Causes of Child Poverty


Of the many root causes of child poverty, most sources point to an absence of one parent, particularly the father, as having the greatest impact on a child’s future. In the U.K., 23% of children in two parent families live in poverty, while over 40% of children in single parent households fall into the same category. As women generally earn less in the same professions as men, children in single parent households where the father is absent face an even higher rate of poverty.

Children living with only their mother are

  • 5 times more likely to live in poverty
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 37% more likely to abuse drugs
  • 2 times more likely to be incarcerated
  • 2.5 times more likely to become a teen parent
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 32 times more likely to run away

Ethnicity has also been linked to higher child poverty rates in both the U.S. and the U.K. Part of the reason for the correlation between ethnicity and child poverty in the U.S. is due to the level of crime in minority communities. Not only are families in these communities more likely to be the victims of crime, but they are also more likely to have a parent, more often the father, incarcerated than families in areas with less crime. A child whose father has been incarcerated is five to seven times more likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime.

Although unemployment is a major contributor to child poverty, it is not the only problem. In any economy, poor adults often find they are forced to take dead-end jobs, without advancement opportunities, while middle management and other placements are given to college graduates whose families could afford higher education. In these situations, the wage-earning adult from a poor family is only offered part-time work or the position they currently occupy pays too low a salary and the family suffers.

Clearly, the issues related to child poverty are not limited only to less developed nations. Indeed, child poverty rates are surprisingly high in the world’s most developed nations, including the U.S. and the U.K. If we are unable to address these issues in our own countries, how are we to act as role models for the rest of the world?

– Herman Watson

Sources: Child Poverty Action Group, The Future of Children, Fight Poverty, The Guardian, Barnardo’s

Does Superman, the most iconic American hero over the past 75 years, have what it takes to end global poverty? On the one hand, he’s long been the go-to-guy for the world’s problems. On the other hand, he’s only one man. And isn’t the issue of poverty just too darned big for one man to make a difference? Let’s get into the character analysis.

1. Superman is the ultimate immigrant story.

Superman crash landed on Earth after his parents jettisoned him from his home planet, Krypton, before it eventually exploded. As the story-line goes, Superman’s parents were seeking a better life for their baby. They saw Earth as the perfect place for him to lead this life and seize an opportunity to thrive amongst humans, potentially doing a lot of good for society on Earth.

As an immigrant himself, Superman would no doubt feel entirely comfortable in a relief scenario. Whether it is relating to displaced persons or providing food aid to hungry children, Superman knows no borders to his work and will have the greatest ability to empathize with shocks to the home life that impact the way people live. He also has that power to learn languages quickly.

2. Superman knows agriculture.

After Superman crash landed, he was found and raised by two Kansas farmers. Clearly, the guy knows agriculture. It’s no surprise that he could be just the man for the job in relief work. Not only would Superman be hip to the more modernized technologies in the industry, he would no doubt be a demon with a plow. Forget the tractor, give the Man of Steel twelve machine hook-ups and watch him prepare that soil for sowing in no time! Alternatively, he could use his super breath to create some forced-air rows.

3. Superman fights for the little guy.

Ever since his early days, Superman has fought for the weak and the oppressed. He has taken the worthy cause, no matter the peril or eventual harm to himself. It seems, therefore, that Superman would beeline for relief work, helping in any way he could. It’s not every day that the world is under some catastrophic and acute threat from outer-space. So, this would give him something to occupy himself on his days off.

4. Superman is us.

Finally, and most importantly, Superman is us. Superman embodies, and has done so since the beginning, the American Dream. He is the personification of our hopes and fears. In World War II, he marched with us against the Nazis in Germany. In the 1950s, he became the world peacekeeper that we saw in ourselves. In the ’60s and ’70s, the story turned more inward to address Superman’s identity, reflecting the youth of our nation in questioning who he was in society. And in the late 20th century, he took on arch-nemesis Lex Luther, the king of capitalism and big corporations in America.

Today, with global poverty on the forefront of our national conscience, it is self-evident that our national hero would be the first to face the challenge. What’s ironic about this, however, is that Superman’s most influential move would be to voice his opinion in American politics. To do so, he, like us, would begin by contacting his local Congressperson to show his support for poverty relief in foreign policy. As one man, Superman needs us to back him in this move.

Strangely, in the fight against global poverty, we are all Superman.

– Herman Watson

Sources: Comic Vice, IMDB, USA Today
Photo: Fan Pop



Return on Investment of U.S. Foreign Assistance





In May of 2017, more than 200 major companies sent a letter to Congress urging that the International Affairs Budget be protected. As all but five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and many of the fastest growing economies are in the developing world, these business leaders believe it is in the economic interest of their companies for the U.S. to increase foreign aid spending and address poverty.


  1. Libya 17.8
  2. Rwanda 8.5
  3. Bangladesh 7.7
  4. Ethiopia 7.7
  5. Côte D’Ivoire 7.4
  6. Cambodia 7.2
  7. India 7.0
  8. Tajikistan 7.0
  9. Vietnam 7.0
  10. Dominican Republic 7.0

Annual average GDP growth % 
(World Atlas)


By the end of 2018, Yum! Brands Inc. (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) had 62% of its operations overseas, with many of these locations in Africa and Asia. This consequently allowed 6,300 U.S. food and paper suppliers to increase their sales and exports to these franchises abroad.

“We need to stop viewing it as aid. It’s an investment.”
– Former Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

The purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for its existence.”
– Mark Green, USAID Administrator 

“United States government investments in the international affairs budget have had an instrumental impact creating healthier, safer and more stable societies around the world.”
– Sam Worthington, InterAction CEO

“From an economic perspective, what happens in one country has ripple effects throughout the world.”
– Chris Policinski, Former CEO Land O’Lakes 

“We have no choice but to stay engaged in the world. 95% of the people we want to sell something to live somewhere else, and America’s access to and leadership in foreign markets is critical. We’re the largest exporter by a significant factor, and we need to capitalize on that.” 
– Thomas J. Donohue, Former President U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Reducing global poverty is in our nation’s best interest, and a sustained collaboration between the private sector and the government is needed in this regard.”
– Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company

“The growth of the developing world presents a major economic opportunity for American business today and a thousand opportunities tomorrow… We urge American companies to roll up their sleeves, get out there and engage with the economic opportunities that are emerging across the world. This is a moment to lean forward and take the kind of informed risks that have led to some of our greatest successes.”
– Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton