Poverty and Inequality

By some estimates, the top one percent of Americans earn 20 percent of the income. Wealth inequality is even more dramatic, with a mere 0.1 percent of the population controlling more than 20 percent of the wealth. At the same time, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty, according to recent Census data. This level of inequality has implications for social and economic mobility, professional and educational attainment, and food and housing security, as well as the entrepreneurship and innovation that drive our economy.

NORC has been one of the nation’s leading sources of reliable independent data on poverty and inequality in this country and around the world. One of NORC’s very first studies was a survey of public perceptions about race, economic status, and poverty. Since then, NORC researchers have explored the world of low-wage work, examined the economic impact of early childhood care and development, and studied a variety of social safety net and economic development programs both in the United States and abroad.

Representative Projects

Assessment of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Housing Needs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners, among them NORC at the University of Chicago, to conduct an assessment of housing needs in tribal areas in the United States.  More

Descriptive Study of the Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare Services. ​In 2011, the Office of Family Assistance (OFA), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded grants to 14 tribes and tribal organizations to coordinate tribal TANF and child welfare services to address family risk factors for child abuse and neglect. The grantees agreed to participate in a study as a condition of the grant award. The Study of Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare Services is sponsored by ACF's Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. James Bell Associates is the lead entity on the project; NORC at the University of Chicago and the Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University of Colorado at Denver are project partners.  The goal of this three year study is to document the ways in which the tribal grantees are creating and adapting culturally relevant and appropriate approaches, systems, and programs to increase coordination and enhance service delivery to address child abuse and neglect. More

First 5 LA Family Survey. Funded by First 5 LA, the First 5 LA Family Survey will provide representative data about key indicators of well-being for children zero to five and their parents across 14 communities in Los Angeles County participating in Best Start.  Best Start is an ambitious place-based initiative with the goal of improving outcomes for children zero to five by ensuring children are born healthy, maintain a healthy weight, are free from abuse and neglect and enter school ready to learn.  More

Food Assistance During and After the Great Recession in Metropolitan Detroit. Food Assistance During and After the Great Recession in Metropolitan Detroit will use unique panel survey data from a representative sample of working-age adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area to explore three research questions related to the receipt of SNAP among low-income households: How have low-income families in the Detroit Metropolitan Area bundled SNAP with other types of public assistance, help from charitable nonprofits, and informal social support in the wake of the Great Recession? When controlling for economic shocks and respondent characteristics, to what extent is access to local food assistance resources related to receipt of SNAP assistance? How are receipt of SNAP assistance and economic shocks related to household food shopping behaviors, food security, and financial hardship? More

Houston Foreclosure Study. ​Researchers at the University of Houston and NORC are designing a small panel survey to illuminate the factors contributing to foreclosure (including a test of financial literacy) and what happens to families after they leave their foreclosed home. An additional research question is the impact of foreclosure on children.  More

Implementation of an M&E System for the African Cashew Initiative (ACI). The African Cashew Initative , funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to strengthen global competitiveness of cashew production and processing in five pilot countries in Africa: Mozambique, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin. More

Making Connections. The Making Connections survey, launched in ten poor urban communities, examines mobility, social capital, neighborhoods, resident participation, economic hardship, the availability and utilization of services, and child and adolescent well-being. More

Resident Relocation Survey. NORC at the University of Chicago has been conducting the Resident Relocation Survey (RRS) to gain an understanding of the impact of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan for Transformation, an ambitious effort to rehabilitate or replace substandard high-rise public housing developments in Chicago, on the lives of those relocated.​​​ More