Understanding poverty, shaping the future of poverty research.
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 themes:
Labor Markets and Poverty
The Non-cash Safety Net (including education and health policies)
Children and Intergenerational Mobility
Immigration and Poverty
State-of-the-art interdisciplinary research and training opportunities
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 Assistant.
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 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 spells.
Despite the lack of official data, other surveys do 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 2009-2012.
In 2013, about 1.5 million U.S. workers age 16 and over 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 percent of all hourly paid workers.
In 2012, 46.5 million people were poor. The majority of the people who live below the poverty level do not work. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.6 million or 23 percent of the poor were “working poor.”
There are two official measures of poverty created by the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty guidelines and poverty thresholds are both measures that are intended to identify the level of income necessary to meet basic needs. Both are updated annually.