Poverty Is Going Down, Even If The Nation’s Finances Are A Little Unhealthy

The majority of money-conscious people focus on the state of their finances for a sense of their economic wellbeing. If there’s money in the bank and equity in the house, they tell themselves that they’re doing well.

But for economists, the considerations are different. Professionals who study welfare want to know if poverty itself is in decline. For them, that is the arbiter of success, not how much money you’ve got in your ROTH 401k. 

As the following infographic shows, the general poverty trend in the US is downwards. Even in the aftermath of the great recession, poverty rates stayed below their historical norms. What’s more, actual poverty in the US is probably overstated because of all of the government welfare benefits that people receive from the state. Real hardship in the US is rarer than it appears from just eyeballing the figures. 

The debate as to who is responsible for the decline in poverty, however, rages on. On the one hand, some people claim that it is the government that is responsible for the lion’s share of the improvement, thanks to progressive policies. On the other hand, there are the people who point out that private industry has pushed the real cost of goods and services down so that more people can afford them, even on low incomes. 

If you’re interested in this debate, check out the following infographic. It charts the reduction in poverty in the US over the decades and shows how much incomes have risen over that time. 


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