Monday, February 12, 2018

Has Poverty Prevention Worked in California?

Trends in Poverty in the US, CA, MS, NH, and PA
Recently I did a post on The Hill Talk on how a writer for the National Review falsely claimed that California had the highest poverty rate in the US.  The data from the Census Bureau for the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) showed that California was ranked 20th in its poverty rate which was only slightly ahead of the national rate.  For this post, I decided to look at the past trends in the poverty rates for the US as a whole, for California which the article also claims have had failed anti poverty policies, for Mississippi which has the highest poverty rate, Pennsylvania my home state, and New Hampshire which had the lowest poverty rate of any state plus DC.  


The graph above shows that four states considered have mirrored the national rate since 2013.  California and the other states did see a spike in their poverty rates in 2012 when the US poverty rate peaked at 15.9% in 2011.  California's peaked at 17%, Mississippi's at 23.8% (it rose to 23.9% in 2013 but that was within the 90% confidence interval), 13.7% in Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire's peaked at 9.7%.For all four states there was a one year lag in the decrease in the poverty rate from the decrease in the national rate.



Of course in every state there is considerable variability in the poverty level at the county level.  In the graph above there were 30 counties with poverty rates higher than the state rate in 2013 of 16.8% and 32 above the national rate of 15.8%.

As for the effect of the anti poverty programs in California, they had the second largest percentage drop of the four states considered in the rate from 2012-2016.  Mississippi had the largest decrease in the rate at 2.8% followed by California and then New Hampshire at 2.1% but there is greater uncertainty in their rates as shown by the width in the confidence interval.  This is due to Mississippi's and New Hampshire's smaller populations.  It seems clear that Pennsylvania had the smallest decrease in poverty at 0.8% of the frour states considered.  The US poverty rate decreased by 1.9% over this period.


State  Year All Ages SAIPE Poverty Universe All Ages in Poverty Percent 90% Confidence Interval (All Ages in Poverty Percent) Decrease in the rate 2012-2016
United States 2016 315,165,470 14 13.9 to 14.1 1.9
2012 306,086,063 15.9 15.8 to 16.0
California 2016 38,513,333 14.4 14.3 to 14.5 2.6
2012 37,303,312 17 16.9 to 17.1
Mississippi 2016 2,892,926 21 20.5 to 21.5 2.8
2012 2,890,915 23.8 23.3 to 24.3
New Hampshire 2016 1,292,241 7.6 7.2 to 8.0 2.1
2012 1,280,031 9.7 9.2 to 10.2
Pennsylvania 2016 12,368,248 12.9 12.7 to 13.1 0.8
2012 12,353,852 13.7 13.5 to 13.9
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