Urban Institute nonprofit social and economic policy research
About the Project
The Low-Income Working Families (LIWF) project tracks the well-being of low-income families over time and analyzes the risks these families face. Our researchers identify the factors that contribute to poor outcomes for these families, and policy options that would reduce barriers and promote meaningful work for adults and positive outcomes for children.

This project is made possible through generous funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Low Income Working Families Project

Race, Place, and Poverty

During 2008–10, 16.5 million civilian men age 18–44 in the United States lived in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level; 15 million of these men did not have college degrees. Almost all low-income men lived in metropolitan areas, but their race and ethnicity, employment, marriage rates, and health insurance status varied from place to place.

The map below displays the geographic variation in these characteristics of low-income men age 18–44 without bachelor’s degrees living in 64 US metropolitan areas.

 

A large number of US men of prime working age are neither gainfully employed nor pursuing education or other training, suggesting a potentially significant disconnection from mainstream economic and social life. The Urban Institute, funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Services, convened the Race, Place, and Poverty symposium to better understand the experiences of men who were disengaged or at high risk of disengagement from mainstream economic and social systems. The symposium explored the state of knowledge on disconnected low-income men and discussed effective strategies for improving their lives.

The five briefs in this series on disconnected low-income men provide a geographic and demographic snapshot of low-income men, examine their education, employment, health, and heightened risk of incarceration and disenfranchisement, and summarize the symposium. A related background paper prepared for the symposium features key themes from ethnographic and other qualitative research.

Additional funding for this initiative was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation through the Low-Income Working Families Project.