Comparing Presidents, The Poverty Rate

This post looks at the percentage of people living below the poverty level over time. Here’s a graph of what it looks like, for as far back as the Census keeps data.

From the graph its pretty clear… if there were two periods in which poverty declined, it was during the JFK/LBJ administrations, and during the Clinton administration. It seems to have meandered during the Nixon/Ford years, risen and the fallen (to end more or less unchanged) over the Reagan years, and risen during the Carter and two Bush administrations. (Editorial comment… There I go again with my Bush derangement syndrome… noticing that the Bush League Boys just didn’t perform. And the fact that I point out that Carter didn’t go anywhere either… its still BDS, because putting GW in there with history’s greatest monster is patently unfair.)

Here’s a summary…

And what drives poverty? Some quick and dirty correlations between the percentage change in the poverty rate and two series: the percentage change in the Gini ratio and real median income. (Note… Gini ratio is for families, real median income and poverty is for individuals… I simply can’t find the Gini ratio for individuals. Sorry.)

Update!!!! The original Table 2 was incorrect. Verbage rewritten – may affect some of the comments people left. Apologies!!!

So what do we learn… there does seem to be a positive correlation between the gini ratio and poverty… higher poverty rates are associated with more inequality. Note… leaving out the jump in the Gini in 1993 (see yesterday’s post)… the correlation between poverty and Gini goes up to .41.

But the relationship between real median income and the poverty rate is stronger. Much stronger. Faster increases in real median income (repeat, median) are associated with decreases in the poverty rate. And faster increases in real median income in any given year are even more strongly correlated with real median income in later years.

Nothing in this post seems like a surprise to me.

Coming soon…. Justice!


Update… Figures in Table 2 were wrong when this post was first posted. Thanks to Sebastian Holsclaw for pointing out a discrepancy and making me check the work again.

Wrong the second time too!!!! Apologies!!!