Understanding poverty, shaping the future of poverty
We focus on facilitating research using a diverse set of
approaches across academic disciplines to answer critical
questions about poverty and its solutions.
The Center has four primary poverty-related research
Labor Markets and Poverty
The Non-cash Safety Net (including education and health
Children and Intergenerational Mobility
Immigration and Poverty
State-of-the-art interdisciplinary research and training
Conferences and seminars featuring renowned poverty scholars
Dissemination activities that bring Center research studies
to the widest possible audience of policy-makers and stakeholders
at state and national levels
Visiting scholar and visiting graduate student programs
designed to expand the network of poverty researchers beyond the
UC Davis campus
An extramural grant program aimed at mentoring a new
generation of scholars
An interdisciplinary course on Poverty and Public
Policy for graduate students and advanced undergraduates
The Center engages faculty research affiliates in the departments
of Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science,
Agricultural Economics, Human and Community Development, Chicano
Studies, and the Schools of Education, Engineering, and Law.
The Center was founded in September 2011 with core funding from
the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is
one of three federally designated Poverty Research Centers whose
mission is to facilitate non-partisan academic research in the
United States. The other poverty centers are the Institute for
Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and
the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.
The Center is located at the University of California, Davis and
is led by a Director, Deputy Director, and Executive Committee
consisting of UC Davis faculty, along with a National Advisory
Board consisting of nationally known poverty scholars. There are
two staff positions supporting the Center, a Manager and Program
Funding for our research projects are made possible by the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). All research
projects funded provided by the Center for Poverty Research,
should include the following language:
“Funding for this project was made possible in part by grant
number 1H79AE000100-1 to the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of
the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Analysis (ASPE), which
was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA). The views expressed are those of the
authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies of
the Department of Health and Human Services.”
The University of California, Davis, will join a select group of
institutions studying a topic that is a dreadful reality to
millions of Americans.
UC Davis has received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services to establish a Center for Poverty
Research. It will be one of three U.S. centers designated to
study the causes and effects of policies aimed at addressing
poverty in the United States. The other centers are at Stanford
University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produce data on
health and healthcare in the United States. Their annual
statistical yearbook, Health, United States includes a variety of
tables with breakdowns by poverty status.
In 2011-2012, their data for children under 18 with “no usual
source of healthcare” show
4% of all children had no usual source of healthcare
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.