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White House Poverty Proposal Inspired by Shaefer's Research

Associate Professor Luke Shaefer


Following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, the Obama administration announced it will dedicate $2 billion to test new approaches to helping poor families avoid falling into extreme poverty.

According to a senior administration official, inspiration for the president's initiative came from the groundbreaking research that resulted in "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America," a new book by University of Michigan Associate Professor Luke Shaefer and Kathryn J. Edin of Johns Hopkins University. "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" profiles the lives of families struggling to get by on cash incomes of no more than $2 per person, per day; roughly the cost of a cup of coffee.

In heartbreaking detail, Shaefer and Edin's book illuminates how America's extreme poor survive despite a labor market that routinely fails to deliver a living wage. "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" examines how these families become so poor in the first place: job loss and family instability are two primary factors leading to crippling financial crises that are most often impossible to turn around.

Published in 2015, "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" has reinvigorated the national conversation on poverty and is shaping the public policy proposals of a presidential administration.

"When we first asked Rae McCormick and Jennifer Hernandez and the other families in "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" to share their stories, we told them we hoped doing so would help make things better for other families experiencing similar hardships," Shaefer said. "This announcement was a really great step in making that a reality, and we continue to be extremely grateful to all the families in our book for sharing so generously, with us, and with the entire country."

Media Coverage for Shaefer's Poverty Research and Book

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