"Two academics chronicle the new face of the poor in America, post welfare reform. Edin, a sociologist at Hopkins, and Shaefer, at the School of Social Work at Michigan, look at eight families in four regions of the United States, Chicago, Cleveland, the Mississippi Delta and the Appalachian Foothills of Tennessee, with stories that will remind readers of Nickel and Dimed. The good news is that in a world where there are work incentives and term limits to certain benefits, there’s actually more government money than before reform. The bad news is that virtually no cash component allows poor people almost no flexibility. The lack of subsidized housing has deleterious effects—it’s not a question of doubling up, but of 20 people living in a three bedroom apartment. And heaven help a person with no job who can’t get on disability of some sort. Edin and Shaefer highlight the continuing plight of the poorest of the poor, noting what policies have worked and others that have backfired, offering a few prescriptive solutions for action."— Daniel Goldin
"This punches you in the gut, as you read about people living in America making $1-$2 per day to live on. It shows what a broken society we are that we have seven siblings sharing a bed and they all have one outfit to wear day after day. If you growing up in this kind of poverty, what wouldn't you do to get out? Who would attempt to exploit you to get what they want? Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer have done a tremendous job shedding light on a very dark part of our country, one that we ignore in the media , except to bash the all the programs designed to help the poor, and one where generations of poor families are almost doomed to repeat. Edin and Shaefer also offer some possible solutions that could be a good starting point to bring hope."— Jason Kennedy
Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.
About the Author
—The New York Times Book Review
"With any luck (calling Bernie Sanders) this important book will spark election year debate over how America cares for its most vulnerable."
“Affluent Americans often cherish the belief that poverty in America is far more comfortable than poverty in the rest of the world. Edin and Shaefer's devastating account of life at $2 or less a day blows that myth out of the water. This is world class poverty at a level that should mobilize not only national alarm, but international attention.”
"In $2.00 A Day, Kathy Edin and Luke Shaefer reveal a shameful truth about our prosperous nation: many—far too many—get by on what many of us spend on coffee each day. It's a chilling book, and should be essential reading for all of us."
—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
“Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer deliver an incisive pocket history of 1990s welfare reform—and then blow the lid off what has happened in the decades afterward. Edin’s and Shaefer’s portraits of people in Chicago, Mississippi, Tennessee, Baltimore, and more forced into underground, damaging survival strategies, here in first-world America, are truly chilling. This is income inequality in America at its most stark and most hidden.”
—Michael Eric Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
“Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer, with compelling statistics and wrenching human stories, illustrate how—with incomes far below the pay of low-wage jobs that cripples families by the millions—a shocking number of Americans live in an almost unimaginable depth of poverty, with near-zero incomes. We have let the bottom go out of the American economy. This powerful book should be required reading for everyone.”
—Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center and author, So Rich So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America
“This searing look at extreme poverty deftly mixes policy research and heartrending narratives... Mixing academic seriousness and deft journalistic storytelling, this work may well move readers to positive action.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An eye-opening account of the lives ensnared in the new poverty cycle.”
“A close-up, heartbreaking look at rising poverty and income inequality in the U.S.”