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Nearly a Quarter of People in U.S. Can’t Afford Food


At The Atlantic, reports from a new survey by the Pew Research Center reveal that a quarter of people in the U.S. can’t afford to buy food.

From the Pew Survey:


Economic inequality is a common concern for publics around the world. Most people agree that the economic system favors the wealthy. Majorities in most countries say the gap between the rich and the poor has increased in the past five years. This attitude is particularly prevalent among those who live in advanced economies. And at least half in most countries say the wealth gap is a very big problem in their nation, with the developing economies expressing especially high levels of anxiety. …

These are among the key findings of a new survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 countries among 37,653 respondents from March 2 to May 1, 2013.

More specifically: (emphasis added)

Gloomy Economic Context …

Medians of roughly two-in-ten or fewer in advanced economies say they have been unable to afford the food, clothing or health care their families needed at some point in the past year. In the emerging markets and the developing economies, reports of deprivation are much higher. Among the emerging markets, medians of at least a quarter say they have had trouble getting basic necessities for their families. In the developing economies, roughly half or more in most countries report not being able to afford food, health care or clothing, especially in the African nations surveyed.

Reports of deprivation are closely related to national wealth. For example, in Australia, Canada and Germany — three of the richest countries surveyed in terms of 2012 GDP per capita — roughly one-in-ten or fewer have struggled in the past year to afford food. Meanwhile, in Uganda, Kenya and Senegal — among the poorest countries surveyed — half or more say food for their family has been hard to come by.

The United States is a clear outlier from this pattern. Despite being the richest country in the survey, nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say they had trouble putting food on the table in the past 12 months. This reported level of deprivation is closer to that in Indonesia or Greece rather than Britain or Canada.


(Hunger Increases Graph via The Atlantic)

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4 Responses to Nearly a Quarter of People in U.S. Can’t Afford Food

  1. Cujo359 May 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    In The Atlantic‘s article, maybe the most startling fact is how widespread the deterioration is among the “advanced” economies. Most have shown a deterioration. This does not bode well for stability or economic recovery.

    • Joyce Arnold May 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      That “big picture” that is the context for the data regarding food insecurity is very telling. I know terms like “oligarchy” raise eyebrows, but the fact is, a shrinking number of people own a growing percentage of the world’s wealth and resources. Even when numbers illustrating this are dramatic, it seems as if it’s a reality some simply don’t want to see. Or see as “nothing I can do about it anyway.”

      • fangio May 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

        And then we have the case of one Stephen Fincher, Republican rep from Tenn. A farmer who has recieved subsidies and direct payments totaling 3.5 million who throws the bible at food stamp recipients. If ever there was a poster child for conservative hypocrisy staring you in the face this is it. This should be a rallying cry for every progressive organization in the country, if there really is such a thing. Here is the truth of conservatism in all it’s ugliness, selfishness and cruelty.

        • Joyce Arnold May 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

          Fincher sets the bar so low that the rallying cry should be easy to spread. I just don’t know if there’s enough concern about food insecurity for that to happen.

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