The Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis is one of three
federally designated centers whose mission is to facilitate
non-partisan academic research on poverty in the
U.S., disseminate this research, and train the next
generation of poverty scholars. Our research agenda
includes four themed areas of focus: labor markets and poverty,
children and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the
non-traditional safety net, and immigration.
A minimum wage is the lowest wage that employers may legally pay
to workers. The first minimum wage law was enacted in 1894
in New Zealand.
With the passage of The
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), the U.S. minimum
wage was initially set at $0.25 per hour for covered
workers. Since then, it has been raised 22 separate
times–most recently, in July 2009, to $7.25 an hour.
The U.S.D.A.’s Economic Research Service monitors the extent and
severity of food insecurity in U.S. households through a
supplement to the Current Population Survey. Responses to a
series of 18 questions are used to determine whether a household
is food insecure.
The official poverty statistics do not track individuals or
households over time so there are no official data on poverty
Despite the lack of official data, other surveys to provide the
ability to track poverty status over time. Two recent studies
have used differing data sources and methods to provide some
insight into the characteristics of poverty spells.
Census Bureau Study
The Census Bureau has used monthly data from the Survey of Income
and Program Participation to look at poverty entry and
exit in the period 2009-2011.
In 2013, 75.9 million workers (or 59% of all wage and salary
workers) in the United States age 16 and over were paid hourly
wages. Among those 1.5 million workers earned exactly the
prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Another 1.8 million had wages below the federal
minimum. Together these workers make up 4% of all hourly
There are two official measures of poverty: poverty guidelines
and poverty thresholds. Both of these measures are intended
to identify the level of income necessary to meet basic needs and
are updated annually.
In November 2013, the Center hosted the conference “The
Affordable Care Act & Low Income Populations: Lessons from
and Challenges for Research.”
This conference brought together a unique mix of researchers,
policy professionals and industry leaders to discuss what the new
law means for health care in this country, as well as its
possible impacts on domestic poverty.
In these pages, we have gathered conference presentations with
existing and new Center materials on U.S. health care including:
Audio recordings of conference presentations and panels, as
well as slides
Policy briefs on health care
Facts and figures, as well as links to outside sources, that
provide a clearer picture of health care in the U.S.
New articles that explore issues brought up during the
Central to our mission is the dissemination of poverty research.
We hope you will consider these pages a useful, ongoing resource
as we continue to add new work and research on health care in the
The Center for Poverty Research (CPR), located at the University
of California, Davis invites proposals for its 2014–15 Small
Grants Competition. CPR seeks to fund research that will expand
our understanding of the causes and consequences of
poverty. The goal of this program is to fund proposals
focused on our core research areas that display sound research
design and high potential impact. CPR anticipates funding
up to 4 proposals, up to a maximum of $25,000 per award.
Description: This interdisciplinary course will
provide background on poverty statistics, theories and evidence
on the causes and consequences of poverty, and the history and
efficacy of major anti-poverty programs in the United States.
Dr. Chris Benner is an Associate Professor of Community and
Regional Development, and Chair of the Geography Graduate Group
at the University of California, Davis. His research
focuses on the relationships between technological change,
regional development, and the structure of economic opportunity,
focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work
and employment patterns.
Ann Huff Stevens is Director of the Center for Poverty Research
at UC Davis and Professor and Chair of the Department of
Economics. She studies low income workers and labor markets, the
incidence and effects of job loss, connections between economic
shocks and health, and poverty and safety-net dynamics.
1153 Social Sciences & Humanities Building
Gail Goodman received her degree in Developmental Psychology from
UCLA in 1977. Her areas of research expertise include welfare
recipients, foster care, and the intergenerational transmission
of attachment insecurity.
Marianne Page is Deputy Director of the Center for Poverty
Research. Her research includes inter-generational mobility and
the impact of social programs on children’s outcomes. Recent
projects include investigations of the causal relationship
between parental education and children’s success in school,
distributional effects of class size reduction policies, and the
impact of the WIC program on young children’s health.
1138 Social Sciences & Humanities Building
Leticia Saucedo received her degree, cum laude, from
Harvard Law School in 1996. Her research centers on employment
and immigration law, immigrants in low-wage workplaces and the
structural dynamics affecting their entry.
Lisa Pruitt’s areas of research include legal and policy
implications of income inequality along the rural-urban continuum
and legal aspects of declining mobility, with an emphasis on
diminishing access to higher education.
Michal Kurlaender’s work focuses on education policy and
evaluation, particularly practices that address existing
racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequality at various stages of
the educational attainment process.
Ross A. Thompson’s research focuses on the applications of
developmental research to public policy concerns, including
school readiness and its development, early childhood
investments, and early mental health.
Dina Okamoto received her degree in Sociology from the University
of Arizona in 2001. Her poverty related research focuses on
interviews and ethnographic studies of low-income immigrant
families and their adaptation to life in the U.S.
2264 Social Sciences & Humanities Building
Kimberlee Shauman received her degree in Sociology, Population
Demography and Ecology from the University of Michigan in 1997.
Her areas of expertise include social stratification, family and
kinship, demography, sociology of education, and quantitative
2243 Social Sciences and Humanities Building
Paul Heckman received his degree in Curriculum and the Study of
Schooling from the University of California, Los Angeles in
1982. His research focuses on the educational ecology of
communities, school restructuring, and school culture, change and
Paul Hastings received his degree from the University of Toronto.
His research focuses on the impact of stressors on child and
adolescent well-being, and the effects of poverty on
physiological reactivity, regulation and development of mental
and physical health problems.
Rand Conger received his degree in Sociology from the University
of Washington in 1976. His research focuses on social and
economic stress; life course development; family interaction
processes; and family research methods.
Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine this week about the
troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the
hardest place in America to live.
The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points
for each county in the United States: education (percentage of
residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household
income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and
obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these
categories to create an overall ranking.
Is a family with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television
and a computer with an Internet connection poor?
Americans — even many of the poorest — enjoy a level of material
abundance unthinkable just a generation or two ago. That
indisputable economic fact has become a subject of bitter
political debate this year, half a century after President Lyndon
B. Johnson declared a war on poverty.