"Over 11% of the U.S. population — about one in nine people — lived below the
federal poverty line in 2021. But Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond says
neither that statistic, nor the federal poverty line itself, encapsulate the
full picture of economic insecurity in America.
"There's plenty of poverty above the poverty line as a lived experience,"
Desmond says. "About one in three Americans live in a household that's making
$55,000 or less, and many of those folks aren't officially considered poor. But
what else do you call trying to raise three kids in Portland on $55,000?"
Growing up in a small town in Arizona, Desmond learned firsthand how economic
insecurity could impact a family's stress level. He remembers the gas being
shut off and his family home being foreclosed on. Those hardships would later
drive his research — specifically the question of how so much poverty could
exist within a country as wealthy as the U.S.
Desmond's 2017 book Evicted
, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, examined
the nation's affordable housing crisis through the lens of those losing their
homes. His new book, Poverty, by America
, studies various factors that
contribute to economic inequality in the U.S., including housing segregation,
predatory lending, the decline of unions and tax policies that favor the
wealthy. Desmond says that affluent Americans, including many with progressive
political views, benefit from corporate and government policies that keep
Via Kenny Chaffin.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics