The face of America’s poor is far from constant with new research confirming earlier studies that that every year, a different class of people live in poverty and by the time a majority of Americans get to age 60, up to four in every five of them have been poor at some point in their lives. As economic position is the principal determinant for the value people’s and families’ lives, while many manage to get back on their feet after this period, its effects can have far reaching consequences.
According to research conducted by Mark Rank, a Washington University Sociologist, and a team of fellow sociologists, an incredible number of Americans will be dependent on welfare at some point in their lives. Rank reveals that by age 60, a staggering majority of Americans will have been unemployed, living below the poverty index, at the bottom 20% of income distribution and reliant on government programs including food stamps for a year or more.
The survey, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, spoke volumes of the volatility of income in the U.S. Rank said, “Rather than an uncommon event, poverty was much more common than many people had assumed once you looked over a long period of time.”
Interestingly, the survey also found that the reverse for income affluence holds. As many as 11 per cent of U.S. citizens will spend time at the top one per cent of income distribution for a time before they get to 60. A far greater number will reach the top 20 per cent, however, their stay will be short lived. It is this sort of volatility that has plagued the American economy for decades.
Rank said, “The story of the American life course is marked by a surprising degree of economic movement and volatility.”
Census figures indicate that up to 46.2 million Americans are poor. That’s approximately 15 per cent of the population. What this study indicates is that every year, the people in that 15 per cent change and sooner or later, a vast majority of us will form that statistic. Effectively, there are as many people moving out of poverty as there are moving into it. The cycle just doesn’t stop and as research indicates, it only gets worse.
An Associated Press-GkF research put forward that by 2030, the volatility of income distribution will grow to engulf 85 per cent of Americans. That’s a five per cent growth from the current 80 per cent.
President Barrack Obama’s administration has been faulted repeatedly over the spiraling economic hardships facing the country. With joblessness on the rise, the number of American families on welfare is increasing and life expectancy gradually decreasing. 80 per cent of Americans will know poverty at one point in their lives. Those who recover may never get back to their former selves and for those who don’t, their struggles will continue to haunt the nation’s economic recovery for years to come.