Our Biggest Poverty Problem Is Not the Elderly

New poverty figures for 2017 are out today along with the new income figures, and there are no surprises: the poverty rate decreased 0.4 percentage points, just as you’d expect during an economic expansion. However, it’s worth showing the poverty rate by age, since it seems to be an endless source of misinformation:

Yes, that orange line is correct: ever since 2000, the elderly have had the lowest poverty rate in the nation. That includes the entire period of the Great Recession, and every year since.

Our biggest poverty problem is not among senior citizens. Our biggest poverty problem is, first, among children, and second, among working-age adults.¹ That’s where our attention should be most heavily focused.

¹The Supplemental Poverty Measure tells a somewhat different story, but even the SPM says that poverty is more widespread among children than among the elderly.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate