$2.00 a Day: Book summary and reviews of $2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin

$2.00 a Day

Living on Almost Nothing in America

by Kathryn J. Edin

$2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin

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Book Summary

A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don't think it exists

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. 

After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn't seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 

Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has "turned sociology upside down" (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich - and truthful - interviews. Through the book's many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 

The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America's extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This slim, searing look at extreme poverty deftly mixes policy research and heartrending narratives from a swath of the 1.5 million American households eking out an existence on cash incomes of $2 per person per day." - Publishers Weekly

"An eye-opening account of the lives ensnared in the new poverty cycle." - Kirkus

"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." - Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickeled and Dimed

"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

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Kathryn J. Edin is one of the nation's leading poverty researchers, recognized for using both quantitative research and direct, in-depth observation to illuminate key mysteries about people living in poverty:  "In a field of poverty experts who rarely meet the poor, Edin usefully defies convention" (New York Times).  Her books include  Promises I Can't Keep:  Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage and Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City.  Edin is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. 

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