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Friday, March 25, 2016

Poverty in Practice

Poverty affects people in ways that affluent people may overlook.  For example, why don't poor people use cloth diapers?  Because many do not have washing machines.  Emily Badger writes at The Washington Post:
To illustrate this, we pulled data from the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey. One in four households in the U.S. living on less than $40,000 a year lacks a washing machine at home. The richest families in America are about 30 percentage points more likely than the poorest to have their own washing machine...
This is admittedly a scenario that a small share of all Americans face: whether to use cloth diapers when you're poor and don't have a washing machine. But this debate gets at the larger point that solutions we often come up with for the poor are informed by the assumptions of people with more money. And forgetting that other households may not have a washing machine is a privilege of people who can take theirs for granted.
At CNN, Ahiza Garcia writes that poor people often cannot afford to take advantage of bulk discounts:
For low-income families, the discounts shoppers get from buying in bulk are often out of reach -- forcing them to pay more for everyday items like toilet paper.
That's one of the findings of a recent study from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which analyzed toilet paper purchases among 100,000 U.S. households over the course of seven years.

Researchers found that low-income families were less able to afford the higher upfront cost of buying items in bulk than households with higher incomes. For example, 36 rolls of two-ply paper might cost about $15, but an individual roll of one-ply paper might cost only $1.
The inability to buy in bulk can hurt a low-income family's budget in more ways than one, researchers found. Because low-income families can't afford to stock up, they have to shop more often. This means they miss out on sales -- when the toilet paper runs out, you can't wait for it to go on sale to buy more.