Poverty in the United States

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Poverty is a social state in which an individual lives below a socially acceptable level of monetary or material possessions. In the United States, the government defines poverty as a relative level of individual’s life that is based on the total income received rather than on the absolute amounts of possessions that individuals can afford. The thresholds of poverty in the United States were initially generated by Mollie Orshansky in 1963 through 1964. This analysis under the custody of the Social Security Administration was subsequently published in 1965 in what became popularly known as the Social Security Bulletin. At this moment, a report by the Council of Economic Advisors set the poverty line at a value of $3,000 for families of any size. This was based on the value of the dollar then (Fisher, 1992).

Since then, a number of reviews have been made to the federal income and poverty statistics, starting from 1973 when a subcommittee was formed for the purpose of updating the poverty threshold. By the year 2009, around 43.6 million Americans were deemed to be living below the poverty line. However, a good majority of these people could actually afford adequate shelter, clothing, and medical care. In addition, research shows that the people living below poverty line today enjoy a much better quality of life than those identified 40 years ago as living below the poverty line (Fisher, 1992).

There is a variety of sociological factors that make the study of poverty a relevant idea in the American Society. First is the relative difference in the cost of living in various states like, for instance, in California where poverty rates are generally more prevalent. In this respect, the statistics from this study would help advice the low income earners or the middle class on what migratory patterns to adopt since the majority of members of such groups may not afford the living standard of California. Moreover, the question of poverty as regards race is of a great concern, especially to the civil rights groups as well as to the politicians who are the major policy makers. In addition, these studies are equally relevant to the government since they help them to earn success in their policies that target the mitigation of poverty (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1976).

To obtain an accurate data as regards poverty, a sociological research based on the fluctuations in the local markets may give a perfect picture of poverty levels. Besides, the sociological parameters field must take into account the cost of medical care as well as the other costs, such as the costs of housing and education, if the actual situation on the ground is to be accurately established. Ideally, the poverty trends along the racial lines and other minority groups will make the basis of any similar study as this will help to determine if the supposed war against racial discrimination is being won or if it is just another exercise in futility (Fisher, 1996).

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