Old and young living in poverty. Two sides to the same coin.
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I couldn’t help but roll my eyes reading a NY Times columnist who claimed, “A large amount of taxpayer money goes toward lifting millions of older Americans out of poverty via Social Security and other benefits. But when it comes to reducing child poverty, the government is much stingier.”
To be clear. The United States is shameful in terms of the number of children who live in poverty.
But it has nothing to crow about when it comes to the numbers of elderly who live lives of constant food insecurity.
To compare them is a race to the bottom, two sides of the same capitalist coin.
It is criminally true that, as the Children’t Defense Fund reports, children remain the poorest age group in America. Nearly 1 in 6 living in poverty.
Children are considered poor if they live in a family with an annual income below the Federal Poverty Line of $25,701 for a family of four, which amounts to less than $2,142 a month, $494 a week or $70 a day.
The youngest children are the poorest and nearly 73 percent of poor children in America are non-white.
Nearly 1 in 3 Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and nearly 1 in 4 Hispanic children were poor compared with 1 in 11 white children.
So, while those over 65 fair somewhat better, poverty among the elderly is far too common, even among those who worked their entire lives and receive government assistance or earned Social Security.
In 2019, approximately 8.9% of those over 65 had income below the poverty thresholds.
However, the number of aged poor has increased since the mid-1970s as the total number of the aged population has grown. In 2019, 4.9 million people aged 65 and older lived in poverty.
The poorest among the elderly are over 80.
In America, those living in poverty are book ends: They are our youngest and oldest.
The. U.S. Census Bureau reports two different measures of poverty: the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).
Unlike the official measure, the SPM poverty thresholds vary by geographic area and homeownership status, and the SPM reflects financial resources and liabilities, including taxes, the value of in-kind benefits (e.g., food stamps), and out-of-pocket medical spending.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates of poverty based on the SPM indicate that the number and share of older adults who are struggling financially are larger than when based on the official poverty measure.
The difference is largely due to the fact that the SPM deducts out-of-pocket medical expenses from income, while the official poverty measure does not.
By all measures, even small small amounts government assistance have made a huge difference for both seniors and children living in poverty.
It is nothing compared to bail outs and tax breaks given to the wealthy and their corporations.
It’s time to flip that around.