Poverty Facts and Myths

Few topics have as many myths, stereotypes, and misperceptions surrounding them as that of poverty in America. The poor have been badly misunderstood since the beginnings of the country, with the rhetoric intensifying in recent times. Our current era of fake news, alternative facts, and media partisanship has led to a breeding ground for all types of myths gaining traction and legitimacy.

This misinformation can be found virtually everywhere—from the political rhetoric emanating out of the highest office in the land to the neighborhood gossip down the street. It would seem as if everyone has heated opinion about the poor, often incorrect, with the heat rising even higher when the topic of welfare is thrown into the mix.

This section confronts some of the most common poverty myths with research evidence. These modules form part of a book entitled Poverty Straight Talk: What America Needs to Know About the Poor (co-authored with Lawrence Eppard and Heather Bullock) which will be published with Oxford University Press during the next year.