The world of welfare has changed radically. As the poor trade welfare checks for low-wage jobs, their low earnings qualify them for a hefty check come tax time a combination of the earned income tax credit and other refunds. For many working parents this one check is like hitting the lottery, offering several months' wages as well as the hope of investing in a better future. Drawing on interviews with 115 families, the authors look at how parents plan to use this annual cash windfall to build up savings, go back to school, and send their kids to college. However, these dreams of upward mobility are often dashed by the difficulty of trying to get by on meager wages. In accessible and engaging prose, It's Not Like I'm Poor examines the costs and benefits of the new work-based safety net, suggesting ways to augment its strengths so that more of the working poor can realize the promise of a middle-class life.
Sarah Halpern-Meekin is Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. Kathryn Edin is Distinguished Bloomberg Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. She is the coauthor of Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage, and Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work. Laura Tach is Assistant Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. Jennifer Sykes is Assistant Professor of Social Relations and Policy at James Madison College, Michigan State University.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Family Budgets: Staying in the Black, Slipping into the Red 2. Tax Time 3. The New Regime through the Lens of the Old 4. Beyond Living Paycheck to Paycheck 5. "Debt--I Am Hoping to Eliminate That Word!" 6. Capitalizing on the Promise of the EITC Appendix A: Introduction to Boston and the Research Project Appendix B: Qualitative Interview Guide Notes Bibliography Index