The COVID-19 pandemic has rattled and rejiggered every aspect of the U.S. economy over the past year and a half. Millions of low-income Americans lost their jobs during the lockdowns, ensuring upheaval, and yet early estimates indicate that fewer Americans were living in poverty in 2020 than a year earlier.
Elena Delavega, who researches and teaches about social welfare policies at the University of Memphis, puts several seemingly contradictory statistics into context. Some 10.3 million Americans at least hovered above the poverty line “because the government stepped up, strengthening the safety net,” she writes. At the same time, she encourages readers not to get “too excited” since the way this country monitors and measures poverty has many shortcomings.
- How full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is different from emergency use
- Black parents suffer at work when their kids are suspended
- The scientific evidence that led the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos as a pesticide for food crops
Emily Schwartz Greco
Philanthropy + Nonprofits Editor
Food insecurity appears to have grown in 2020 despite the decline in poverty. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Elena Delavega, University of Memphis
Early estimates US poverty rate estimates indicate that policies intended to soften the blow of economic upheaval made a big difference.
Jennifer Girotto, University of Connecticut
While emergency use authorization gets vaccines out to the public more quickly, it doesn’t skip any steps that full approval requires.
- The fertility industry is poorly regulated – and would-be parents can lose out on having children as a result
Naomi Cahn, University of Virginia; Dena Sharp, University of California, Hastings
An unknown number of people have lost their dreams of parenthood because of storage disasters at fertility clinics. These experts note poor government oversight and the need for stronger regulation.
- Black parents say their children are being suspended for petty reasons that force them to take off from work and sometimes lose their jobs
Charles Bell, Illinois State University
Suspensions don’t just harm Black children – they also harm their parents’ employment, a school discipline expert argues in a forthcoming book.
- Students from struggling economic backgrounds sent home with food for the weekend have improved test scores, study finds
Michael Kurtz, Lycoming College
When kids have enough food to eat over the weekend, they do better in reading and math, a December 2020 study finds.
Environment + Energy
- The EPA is banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide widely used on food crops, after 14 years of pressure from environmental and labor groups
Gina Solomon, University of California, San Francisco
What kind of evidence does it require to get a widely used chemical banned? A professor of medicine and former state regulator explains how the case for chlorpyrifos as a threat to public health developed.