Shrill media reports and lawmaker harangues about poverty typically exaggerate the true extent of deprivation in the United States, according to a new report from The Heritage Foundation.
“Some poor Americans do experience significant hardships, including temporary food shortages or inadequate housing, but these individuals are a minority within the overall poverty population,” explain Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield.
Heritage’s Mike Brownfield points out some of the report’s unexpected findings:
You’ll be surprised to learn that many of the 30 million Americans defined as “poor” and in need of government assistance aren’t quite what you’d expect—rather than homeless and on the streets, the average poor American household has luxuries like air conditioning, cable TV, and X-box video game consoles.
Rector and Sheffield argue in “What Is Poverty?” that “wise public policy cannot be based on misinformation or misunderstanding.” Instead,
Anti-poverty policy must be based on an accurate assessment of actual living conditions and the causes of deprivation. In the long term, grossly exaggerating the extent and severity of material deprivation in the U.S. will benefit neither the poor, the economy, nor society as a whole.
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