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Five evils: Multidimensional poverty and race in America

Richard V. Reeves, Elizabeth Kneebone, and Edward Rodrigue

Poverty is about a lack of money, but it’s not only about that. As a lived experience, poverty is also characterized by ill health, insecurity, discomfort, isolation, and more. To put it another way: Poverty is multidimensional, and its dimensions often cluster together to intensify the negative effects of being poor.

In the first of a two-part series, Richard Reeves, Edward Rodrigue, and Elizabeth Kneebone examine the “clustering” of five dimensions of poverty—household income, education, concentrated spatial poverty, health insurance, and employment—within a large sample of the American population.

They find that almost 50 percent of the adult population suffers from at least one of the five disadvantages and that almost 25 percent have two or more disadvantages. But importantly, black and Hispanic adults with one disadvantage are more likely than their white peers to have more than one—or many—disadvantages.

See the infographic below to learn more about how the disadvantages cluster by race, or visit the second paper in the series to see patterns of disadvantage in metropolitan areas and rural communities in the United States.

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