Friday’s Food for Thought: Mapping Poverty

Visualizing poverty in the U.S. and beyond


There are 46 million people living in poverty in the United States according to Matt Black, creator of the “Geography of Poverty” photography project.

The Washington Post reports Black was awarded $30,000 in funding by the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography to fund his project. For two years, Black traveled across the U.S. to 70 cities where the poverty rate is higher than 20 percent. He snapped photographs, geotagged them, and used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to document the reality of poverty in a developed and powerful nation.

According to a Deseret News article, maps have helped a number of organizations tackle poverty-related public policy. The World Bank, for example, announced this month they would work with 78 of the poorest nations in the world to conduct household surveys every three years to properly collect poverty data—29 of these countries collected zero poverty data from 2002 to 2011. These gaps prevent analysts from identifying trends in how countries make progress toward alleviating poverty, which poses a barrier in improving poverty rates. Additionally, the article reports leaders from 39 U.S. cities met at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government last month to discuss variables that may effect poverty as well as potential solutions to help better these numbers.

Photo Credit: Matt Black

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