Extreme poverty is at a constant rate, in that it is unchanged despite government handouts and financial assistance programs. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 a day, surviving on mostly food stamps or little or nothing at all. So, how do they get by? Government handouts help a small group of people, though looking at various data points and surveys, there is a disproportionate level of attention given to those living in poverty.
In data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a census program which tracks thousands of households across a span of two to four years, it was found that nearly 1.65 million U.S. households fell below the $2 a day threshold in just one month. This was according to research presented in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog and carried out by sociologists Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer. In addition, the Heritage Foundation, based off U.S. Census Report data, reported 46.2 million people as living in poverty in 2011. For most Americans poverty can mean near destitution though it should be noted that only a small percentage of people were classified as poor by U.S. Census Bureau standards, hinting that material hardship is based on scope and severity and can be limited.