Thursday, May 30, 2019

Redefining Poverty with the People who Live it Every Day

Maryann Broxton, ATD Fourth World, posted on 
Earlier this month, the White House announced plans to redefine who qualifies as “poor” for the purpose of eligibility for social safety net programs. By moving from the federal poverty line to a consumption-based measurement, the administration claims the government will have a better sense of how people spend their money, and if they are living in poverty or not. The first main consequence of this policy change would be a drastic reduction of the number of people qualifying as “poor” and thus as eligible for federal programs – a change on paper with no basis in reality. In fact, as people will be removed from the list of those eligible for much-needed subsidies, politicians will trumpet success in fighting poverty while ordinary people’s lives will only get worse.
If there is hope to be found in this news it is that the way we define poverty can be changed.
In a recent multi-year participatory research project conducted by ATD Fourth World in partnership with Oxford University, we looked at the way poverty is understood by the people who live it every day. To do this, people in poverty worked alongside academics and social workers as co-researchers in every step of the process, from designing the study, to conducting peer groups, and analyzing the results. Read more about this project here. The article includes a live link to the full ATD Fourth World report.