Race & Poverty

As I read Continental Drift, I was struck by Bob’s seeming to feel like he was “more than” the people of color with whom he crossed paths, especially considering that his family was really struggling, financially & otherwise, throughout the book. This made the epidemiologist in me wonder about the numbers: How much of a difference does race make when it comes to poverty? In the United States, at least, turns out it makes quite a significant difference.

According to the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty, twenty-seven percent of self-identified black Americans lived in poverty in 2010. The number for non-Hispanic Whites? Just under ten percent.

So is the race-poverty connection causal? What are the drivers of this association? The National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan offers a great policy brief that I found helpful.

Finally, I was interested in the proportion of Haitians living in poverty: It’s 80 percent. (Source: World Bank) Once Vanise arrives in the U.S., will she really be better off? The Census Bureau says she likely will be, financially at least, but she’ll not likely ever be on par with native-born Americans.

Just some food for thought as we prepare for our discussion of the book this evening!

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