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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andy Lin on Friday February 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 103 at University of Massachusetts taught by Steven Boutcher in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 31 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at University of Massachusetts.
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Date Created: 02/12/16
American dream is if you work hard enough, you will be successful Inequity Ultimately, what you think the class system looks like is tied to some indicator o Usually, class = socioeconomic status Is the inequity gap getting bigger? Gini Index: one of the most commonly used measures of inequality o Measures the dispersion of income across individuals in a society o Ranges from 0(total equality) to 1(total inequality) o US Gini index is .48 which is high and continues to grow higher Poverty as a Social Problem How should we define poverty? How do we measure it? “poverty is in the eye of the beholder” All definitions are going to be initially subjective Adam Smith defines poverty as lacking basic necessities Another way to define poverty is to include anyone that falls under a certain category in the income distribution o E.g. bottom 20% of the income distribution. Or those that fall under 50% of the median income o Equally subjective o Does not convey any idea of overall standard of living for this group Alternatively, we could survey the population and ask about perceptions about what level of income in minimally needed for survival Absolute Poverty o Sets a minimum threshold necessary for adequate subsistence Relative Poverty o Sets a threshold in relation to others in the society Those in the bottom 20% or those making less than the median income Poverty in the United States The US government officially defines poverty using an absolute measure Developed in 1964 by Mollie Orshansky o Economist working for the Social Security Administration The “Basket of Goods” Poverty is defined as a “Basket of Goods” multiplied by 3 o Begin by estimating the household costs of obtaining a minimally adequate diet over the course of a year o This number is then multiplied by three o This was, and still is, the official poverty line Some feel it is too high because it doesn’t include welfare or other noncash benefits Cost of food too low? o The measure used to gauge food costs is the lowest option that the Dept. of Agriculture uses Basing it on food is an issue? o Americans tend to spend less on food than on other expenses Not adjusted geographically For 2015, poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,250 That equals… o $2020.83/month for a family of 4 to live on (has to include food, housing) o Average rent =$962.00 o Average utilities ($250300) o Gas and car ($200) o Left with $590 to spend on other stuff As of 2014: 14.8% of Americans were in poverty Poverty has gone down over time Poverty o Why does poverty exist in America? o Individual choice/failing
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