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High numbers of the nation will experience poverty

Published: Friday, Nov. 8 2013 3:35 p.m. MST

Think that poverty is mostly prevalent in less-advanced civilizations? Not so fast, America.

"Nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the official poverty line during that period ($23,492 for a family of four), and 54 percent will spend a year in poverty or near poverty (below 150 percent of the poverty line)," wrote Mark Rank, a professor at the University of Washington in St. Louis, for the New York Times.

Rank said his research fights against the popular misconceptions that poverty is not widespread among Americans, most impoverished people live in the inner city, and that those who do dwell in poverty remain there for years at a time.

Rank calls each assumption "flat-out wrong."

"Even more astounding, if we add in related conditions like welfare use, near-poverty and unemployment, four out of five Americans will encounter one or more of these events," Rank wrote.

A recent article in The Atlantic also reported Ranks research and highlighted different demographics within the country, saying that "38.9 percent of Americans will live at least year under the official poverty line between ages 25 and 60, (and) just 11.6 percent will spend five years or more impoverished."

While the numbers may seem steep, the article suggests that these statistics help break down misconception barriers that permeate American culture.

As for sustained poverty, the Atlantic reports that it is a rare scenario. Among adults, only 6.1 percent will live in poverty for five or more years consecutively. Less than 2 percent will live in poverty for 10 years or more.

This suggests that they are financially insecure, the article reports.

"On the upside, it means relatively few adults suffer from prolonged periods of serious economic deprivation. On the downside, it also means many adults are cycling in and out of poverty over time," The Atlantic reported.

Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

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