Women and Men Living on the Edge: Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession
By Jeff Hays and Heidi Hartmann
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
From Executive Summary:
The IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, like several other recent surveys, finds that the effects of the 2007–2009 recession, known as the Great Recession, are both broad and deep. The IWPR/Rockefeller survey shows that more than one and a half years after the recession came to an official end, and the recovery supposedly began, many women and men report that they are still suffering significant hardships. They are having difficulty paying for basics like food (26 million women and 15 million men), health care (46 million women and 34 million men), rent or mortgage (32 million women and 25 million men), transportation (37 million women and 28 million men), utility bills (41 million women and 27 million men), and they have difficulty saving for the future (65 million women and 53 million men). On almost every measure of insecurity and hardship the survey reveals the Great Recession has visited more hardship on women than it has on men.
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Global Hunger Index 2011. The challenge of hunger: Taming price spikes and excessive food price volatility
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute
From the Summary:
This year’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows that global hunger has declined since 1990, but not dramatically, and remains at a level characterized as “serious.”
Across regions and countries, GHI scores vary greatly. The highest GHI scores occur in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. South Asia reduced its GHI score substantially between 1990 and 1996, but this fast progress could not be maintained. Though Sub-Saharan Africa made less progress than South Asia after 1990, it has caught up since the turn of the millennium.
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Via the New York Times:
Reading, Pa., Knew It Was Poor. Now It Knows Just How Poor.
By: Sabrina Tavernise
Published: September 26, 2011
Reading began the last decade at No. 32. But it broke into the top 10 in 2007, joining other places known for their high rates of poverty like Flint, Camden, N.J., and Brownsville, Tex., according to an analysis of the data for The New York Times by Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College.
Now it is No. 1, a ranking that the mothers at the day care center here say does not surprise them, given their first-hand knowledge of poverty-line wages, which for a parent and two children is now $18,530.
Cities With the Highest Poverty Rates in 2010 (Graphic)
From report website:
Across OECD countries, governments are having to work with shrinking public budgets while designing policies to make education more effective and responsive to growing demand.
The 2011 edition of Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators enables countries to see themselves in the light of other countries’ performance. It provides a broad array of comparable indicators on education systems and represents the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally.
The indicators show who participates in education, how much is spent on it, and how education systems operate. They also illustrate a wide range of educational outcomes, comparing, for example, student performance in key subjects and the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment.
The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create the tables and charts in this book are available via the StatLinks printed in this book.
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High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09): A First Look at Fall 2009 9th-Graders
By: Steven J. Ingels, Ben Dalton, Tommy E. Holder, Jr., Erich Lauff, and Laura J. Burns
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
From press release:
On June 28, the National Center for Education Statistics will release High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09): A First Look at Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders.
This report features initial findings from the base year of a new longitudinal study that started with a nationally representative cohort of ninth-graders in the fall of 2009 and will follow these students through postsecondary education and the world of work. The base year data focus on students’ transitions into high school, especially their decisions about courses and plans for postsecondary education and careers. The HSLS:09 study captures these decisions, plans, expectations, and activities generally but also specifically in math and science.
Findings include the news that half of America’s ninth-graders are taking algebra 1 (51%) and 22% are taking geometry. About 86% of ninth-graders are proficient in understanding algebraic expressions based on their HSLS:09 math assessment scores, but just 18% are proficient at understanding systems of equations and 9% are proficient at understanding linear functions, both of which are more advanced topics within algebra. Of students whose parents hold a master’s degree or higher, 44% are in the top quintile of math performance and 5% in the bottom quintile. Of students whose parents have earned a high school diploma or equivalent, 24% are in the bottom quintile of performance on the assessment and 15% are in the top quintile.
At this age, about 22% of students did not report any educational expectations, while 39% report expecting to earn a graduate or professional degree. More female ninth-graders than male ninth-graders expect to obtain a graduate or professional degree (44% versus 35%). More socioeconomically advantaged ninth-graders expect to earn a graduate or professional degree than their peers in the lowest socioeconomic stratum (56% versus 27%). Over half – 53% of Asian students and 52% of Black students – report that they definitely can complete college, compared to 40% of Hispanic students and 49% of white students who report the same confidence.
Full text (PDF)
Living on a Spike: How is the 2011 Food Price Crisis Affecting Poor People?
By: Naomi Hossain and Duncan Green
Source: Oxfam GB
The human face of global food price rises is often missing amongst the abstract discussions of macro-economic trends and global food price indices. In order to understand the impact of the rise in global food prices through much of 2010 and into early 2011, Oxfam and research partners from the Institute of Development Studies spoke to people effected in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Zambia.
The research offers insights into how economic shocks of this kind work to increase and perpetuate inequality, producing consistent patterns of ‘weak losers’ and ‘strong winners’. Key findings show that poor people do not merely cope by working harder, eating less, living more frugally, drawing down resources and assets, and managing on a day-to-day basis. They also respond politically: they contest official explanations of the causes, and they roundly criticise their governments for failing to act effectively. They analyse the causes of the problems they face as political problems, identifying a lack of responsiveness to their needs, and corruption and collusion among powerful politicians and business interests, as among the sources of the problems they face.
Such findings point to the need for a twin-track response to food price spikes: dynamic, accountable and progressive action by national governments, backed by greatly improved, co-ordinated responses at the global level. Whether the primary concern is people’s well-being, or political stability, food price spikes should be a cause both for concern and for action. At a time of growing political unrest around the world, the stress and discontent fuelled by high food prices merits close attention.
Oxfam’s Grow Campaign
From the summary:
The sustainable production challenge
The food system must be transformed. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet and demand for food will have increased by 70 per cent. This demand must be met despite flatlining yields, increasing water scarcity, and growing competition over land. And agriculture must rapidly adapt to a changing climate and slash its carbon footprint.
The equity challenge
We must also address the appalling inequities which plague the food system from farm to fork. We produce more food than we need. In the rich world, we throw much of it away. In the developing world, nearly one billion of us go without. Hunger and poverty are concentrated in rural areas. Unlocking the potential of smallholder agriculture – the backbone of the food system – represents our single biggest opportunity to increase food production, boost food security, and reduce vulnerability. Yet women and men food producers are routinely deprived of the resources they need to thrive: of water, technology, investment and credit, among others. Huge swathes of land in Africa and elsewhere are being handed over to investors at rock bottom prices, in deals that offer little to local communities.
Growing a Better Future (summary)
Growing a Better Future (full report)
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
From “About the Food Desert Locator“:
Part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, the proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) will expand the availability of nutritious food to food deserts—low-income communities without ready access to healthy and affordable food—by developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets with fresh and healthy food. The HFFI is a partnership between the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, and the Agriculture Department (USDA). An Interagency Working Group from the three departments, along with staff from the Economic Research Service (ERS/USDA), developed a definition of food deserts to be used in determining eligibility for HFFI funds.
ERS’s Food Desert Locator was built using Environmental Systems Research Inc. (ESRI) ArcGIS Server technology. The background topographic and satellite maps as well as the address locator service were also provided by ESRI.
The objectives of the Food Desert Locator are:
to present a spatial overview of where food-desert census tracts are located;
to provide selected population characteristics of food-desert census tracts; and
to offer data on food-desert census tracts that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
Food Desert Locator
For a wider set of statistics, see also The Food Environment Atlas.
Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2008
By: Karen E. Cunnygham and Laura A. Castner
Source: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly the Food Stamp Program—is a central component of American policy to alleviate hunger and poverty. The program’s main purpose is “to permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet…by increasing their purchasing power” (Food and Nutrition Act of 2008). SNAP is the largest of the domestic food and nutrition assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. During fiscal year 2010, the program served 40 million people in an average month at a total annual cost of almost $65 billion in benefits.
Full report (PDF)
WIC Participation Patterns: An Investigation of Delayed Entry & Early Exit
Laura Tiehen and Alison Jacknowitz
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service
Despite the health benefits of participation, many eligible households do not participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). While roughly half of infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits, USDA statistics indicate that eligible pregnant women and children 1-5 years of age are far less likely to participate in WIC than eligible infants and postpartum women. This implies that a number of pregnant women delay enrollment until after having a child, and that many households leave the program when a participating child turns 1 year old. Research on the factors that influence the dynamics of WIC participation can inform outreach and targeting efforts, so that vulnerable populations receive adequate exposure to the benefits of WIC participation.
Report summary (PDF)
Full report (PDF)