Recently, an organization of photojournalists committed to alleviating poverty in the United States, created a photo documentary about poverty called In Our Own Backyard, and an accompanying website called AmericanPoverty.org. Here is a glimpse of their work:
In the Spring 2011 issue on Poverty in CharitiesUSA, Ruth Liljenquist speculates about how people might define poverty: "I'm sure there would be a range of answers. Some might talk about poverty in purely economic terms. Others might see it as a lack of opportunity or lack of access to the things that make for a prosperous life. Still others might discuss poverty as a condition or culture. No doubt, we'd hear some stereotypes about poverty, but we'd also likely hear some well-informed opinions on the matter . . but therein lies the problem. If most Americans don't understand poverty, how can we hope to solve it?"
We are prompted to think again and differently about a question that many in our country think has already been answered. How might we define and measure poverty better? How do we understand poverty, people who are poor, and the barriers they face in climbing out of poverty?
In Think and Act Anew, Fr. Larry Snyder explains that poor individuals can be grouped into three categories "defined by their life experience, rather than solely by their economic status":
The federal poverty rate relies solely on an income measure of poverty. For example, a family of four is poor if they earn less than $22,350 in annual income. This measure of poverty comes from a formula that was developed in the 1960s. Over the years, however, social and work conditions, costs, and family structures have changed so that millions of people above and below that threshold cannot meet their basic needs. Measuring poverty by what it actually costs to meet basic needs, rather than by income, means that we must redefine what it means to be poor. For example, a person is poor if:
There are other factors besides income that may impact a person's ability to live self-sufficiently and with dignity. For example, the American Human Development Index measures human development through three indicators:
In addition to meeting basic needs, this kind of measure is focused on the enlarging people's freedoms and opportunities, and enlarging their well-being.blog comments powered by Disqus