Poverty Crosses Party Lines

A report by Elizabeth Kneebone at the Brookings Institution examines poverty trends in Republican and Democratic congressional districts. The report, titled Poverty Crosses Party Lines, demonstrates the existence of poverty in every congressional district in the U.S., regardless of whether the district is represented by a Republican or Democrat. These findings underscore the bipartisan nature of poverty in the U.S. and the need for bi-partisan solutions. 

Kneebone’s analysis utilized Census data from 2000 and the 2010-2014 period. In the 2010-2014 period, districts currently represented by Democrats had a higher rate of poverty (17.1%) than those represented by Republicans (14.4%). However, more people lived in poverty (25.1 million) in Republican districts than in Democratic districts (22.7 million).

Between 2000 and 2014, 96% of congressional districts saw significant growth in the number of people living in poverty. The poverty rate grew in 96% of Republican districts and in 86% of Democratic districts. The population living in poverty grew by 49% and 33% in Republican districts and Democratic districts, respectively.

The population living in poverty has grown faster in suburban areas than in cities, small metro areas, or rural areas (see “Fact of the Week” in this Memo to Members). Between 2000 and 2014, the poor population in suburban areas climbed by 74.7% in Republican districts and by 50% in Democratic districts. This finding is consistent with other research from Brookings that shows a national trend of increasing suburban poverty.

The report also examined poverty at the neighborhood level. Nearly every congressional district contained a neighborhood where the poverty rate was 20% or more in the 2010-2014 period. Additionally, 213 Republican districts and 163 Democratic districts had at least one neighborhood where the poverty rate was at least 40%. In short, both individual poverty and deep neighborhood poverty exist across party lines in the U.S.

Poverty Crosses Party Lines is available at: http://brook.gs/2fB1T3H