FPI Staff
March 17, 2016

Probability of Poverty Higher Than Many Americans Think

Have you ever laid awake at night wondering how likely it is that you might become poor?

Maybe you should.

“The risk of becoming poor is often higher than Americans of any demographic group realize” notes Yian Q. Mui in aWashington Post article about a study of poverty in the US.

Sociologists Thomas Hirschl of Cornell University and Mark Rank of Washington University created this calculator that looks at the probabilities that people in different demographic categories will become poor in 5, 10, and 15 years.

Poverty, as defined in this calculator, can equal up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is a measure of income level issued annually by the Department of Health and Human Services (read more about FPL here). A family of four would reach the Federal Poverty level with earnings of $24,300 this year.

While the likelihood of entering poverty, or near-poverty, is higher than you might think, Americans are also to get back out of poverty relatively quickly, say the authors.

Given this information, Florida lawmakers would be wise to maintain essential state services like hospitals, health care, public safety and public transit, because they—or you, or I—just might need those services sooner than we think.