Understanding poverty and data

In the latest episode of Penn Today’s ‘Understand This …’ podcast series, Assistant Professor of Sociology Regina Smalls Baker and Assistant Professor Amy Castro Baker in the School of Social Policy & Practice discuss the use of data to understand poverty.

A shiny dress shoe next to a ragged one

Welcome to the fourth episode of “Understand This ...,” a Penn Today podcast. Designed as a journey to understand how to solve problems of the day—and of our time—by uniting minds from different disciplines, this episode explores the use of data to understand poverty, particularly in the unique moment of the COVID-19 pandemic. This podcast is in tandem with Penn Today’s "The role of data in a world reshaped by COVID-19” feature.

Here, Regina Smalls Baker, assistant professor of sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences, and Amy Castro Baker, assistant professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice and director of the new Center for Guaranteed Income Research, talk about the use of data to inform recent economic relief bills, data gaps in assessing who is experiencing poverty, and the feasibility of solutions like universal basic income in alleviating poverty. 

7:40: The state of poverty in the U.S.

11:20: Housing’s role in developing wealth and perpetuating poverty.

22:00: “You can’t resist and deconstruct what you can’t see,” says Castro Baker, explaining gaps in what big data shows about poverty.

26:00: Smalls Baker discusses the changing economic experience of the middle class, especially during an economic recession and pandemic.

41:00: How cash transfers like the one from this spring’s CARES Act affects the motivation of people to look for work. “People want to work,” Castro Baker explains.

49:30: What gives them hope about the future in this moment. 

Download the full podcast on Apple Music