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An Assessment of the Income and Expenses of America's Low-Income Families Using Survey Data from the National Survey of America's Families

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Publication Date: November 2006

Publisher(s): Tax Policy Center

Author(s): Gregory Acs; Austin Nichols

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Poverty and homelessness)

Keywords: Families/Parenting; Economic Well-being; Employment; Wages and Non-wage Compensation

Type: Paper


The policy community is increasingly focusing attention on alleviating the strain on low-income working families, particularly those with children. This paper examines both the income and expenses of these families to see if they are able to meet their expenses with the limited resources at their disposal. We find that low-income working families with at least one full-time, full-year worker fare better than one might expect in 2001, thanks to their work effort, earnings, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, but low-income families without a full-time, full-year worker do not appear to have enough income to cover their basic expenses.