Household wellness is a comprehensive notion that alludes to a family’s subjective assessment of total welfare, considering their physical and mental health and interconnection, culminating in social stability. Sano et al. (2020) enumerate that when a family cannot meet the following requirements in society, financial stability, nutrition security, psychosocial security, and safe homes and neighborhoods, the family is referred to as a low-income family. Low-income families within American society have been crucial in making the government make various amendments across significant health, housing, and education issues for a better society. For instance, the introduction of the Medicare bill was to ensure that all American citizens have access to quality healthcare services regardless of their socioeconomic status. Majorly it was initiated to enable individuals with low incomes and the elderly to access medical services at reduced expenses. This paper aims to discuss and provide a deep insight into the following four events discussed below that have affected low-income families in the United States of America.
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The Market Revolution
The market revolution resounded throughout America, and farmers increasingly produced harvests for profit rather than self-sufficiency. In the North, vast industries and cities grew, creating massive wealth, and a rising middle class grew in size (Van Doorn, 2017). More people worked in the capitalistic society, and they were liberated from servitude shackles. However, there were expenses associated with this change since as northern textile industries expanded, the desire for southern cotton increased proportionately, and American slavery intensified (Van Doorn, 2017). Northern peasant farmers became slaves to the marketplace and boss vagaries.
The market revolution accelerated economic expansion and created unprecedented private fortune, but it also generated a developing peasantry of landless laborers and a sequence of terrible downturns known as panics. Numerous Americans worked for pitiful wages and became entrapped in never-ending generational poverty. Certain laborers, frequently female immigrants, labored for thirteen hours a day, six days a week, and others were enslaved (Van Doorn, 2017). Northern textile mills transformed southern cotton into inexpensive cloth. While northern states abstained from enslavement, their industries gained considerable momentum for slave-grown southern cotton.
Their financial institutions delivered the money necessary to sustain the American slave program’s prosperity and continuous survival. Thus, as the economy progressed, the market revolution twisted the United States into unexpected possibilities, transforming it into a society of unpaid labor and enslavement, wealth and inequity, and limitless potential and unimaginable peril (Van Doorn, 2017). Therefore, today, due to the market revolution, low-income families provide labor in the vast industries created during the revolution, increasing food production in the United States.
The 1964 War on Poverty and the Start of the Head Start Program
The War on Poverty’s slogan swiftly made its way into legislation and the introduction of new government organizations and services. Congress enacted, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in August 1964 (Glen, 2017). The act established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), which funded vocational education, and the Job Corps, which trained teenagers in environmental programs and urban areas (Glen, 2017). During the War on Poverty, a vital policy metric explored the degree to which the most extensive practical involvement of the impoverished was attained, as foreseen by the campaign’s proposed action. From the start, Johnson faced opposition to the War on Poverty from practically every quarter: from the South to racial problems (Glen, 2017). The conservatives believed that federal funds should not assist the poor, thus significantly impacting low-income families lives.
Moreover, the funds set aside for the War on Poverty program were restricted by the economic resources absorbed by the country’s growing intervention in the Vietnam war, limiting the program’s ideology of assisting low-income households (Glen, 2017). The Head Start Program was one of the legislations created under the War on Poverty ever since it had been the most considerable early control and management program in the USA for at-risk, low-income school children (Hines, 2017). The Head Start Program provides essential services to all preschoolers, including instructional, environmental, medical, and nourishment initiatives (Hines, 2017). Today, because of the low-income families, the initiative conducts comprehensive educational readiness and psychosocial assistance programs, particularly for financially deprived three- and four-year-old children and their families.
The Start of The Social Security Administration (1935)
The Social Security Act devised a framework of pension payments for laborers, compensation for occupational injured people, unemployment compensation, and assistance for needy women and families, the blind, and the physically challenged. Before the 1930s, assistance to the aged was a municipal, county, and household responsibility rather than a national one (Gagnon, 2017). However, due to the enormous hardship brought by the economic depression, various suggestions for a nationwide old-age insurance scheme gained popularity. The simplest explanation of social welfare is that it introduced a pension that distributes compensation to those eligible by the scheme after they reach the age of 65 (Gagnon, 2017). Unlike many European countries, the United States social security system was financed through donations from people’s earnings and companies’ paychecks rather than primarily from state revenues.
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The prior funding of Social Security by individuals greatly affected households with low incomes. As such, acquiring medical services was difficult, leading to high mortality rates. Therefore, the poor and low-income families with limited access to healthcare services and pensions upon retirement benefited most since the government catered to such services. The Social Security Act empowered the Social Security Board to enroll individuals for compensation, oversee the federal government’s donations, and transfer funds to beneficiaries. Moreover, in contemporary American society, the government has increased its contribution to Social Security funding to reduce the burden of individual contributions for low-income families.
The Impact of COVID-19
Amid the pandemic, medical doctors have provided child care and vaccines and assisted families with social necessities. However, the unfilled treatment center corridors and assessment rooms serve as a powerful reminder of those missing from the daily news feeds about the COVID-19 pandemic: individuals, particularly those living in poverty (Dooley, 2020). Nonetheless, all governments have closed learning institutions to halt the virus’s transmission, interrupting critical education, nourishment, and social development patterns (Dooley, 2020). Moreover, Van Lancker and Parolin (2020) enumerate that schools provide a location for instruction and intuitive eating for many low-income students. School lunches have been shown to boost educational outcomes, but malnutrition, including unpredictable or poor diets, is connected with poor educational attainment and significant dangers to learners’ physical and psychological well-being (Van Lancker & Parolin, 2020). As a result, low-income adolescents have been compelled to put the collective good ahead of their well-being, both directly and indirectly (Dooley, 2020). The aftermath is that these youngsters cannot keep up with the online program that most institutions set due to the inability to purchase learning equipment like computers.
Income hazards were witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly acute for the underprivileged, disproportionately entrenched in low-wage, part-time salaried jobs with few safeguards. A study by Enriquez and Goldstein (2020) established that most low-income families could not cater for their living expenses or rent or were forced to use lending to pay for essential family expenses. Most Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) low-income participants indicated that they were forced to skip meals, depend on relatives for food, or frequent food banks amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Enriquez & Goldstein, 2020). Additionally, throughout their research, Enriquez and Goldstein (2020) insinuate that the SNAP beneficiary population had a significant level of housing instability. Today, due to the pandemic, the federal government has increased access to medical services through Medicare health bills to reduce the impact of the disease on impoverished families.
Advancements likely to happen to the Low-income Families
The continued investment by the federal government to help eliminate poverty among its citizens in all forms is a change that is likely to benefit low-income families. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal support alleviated impoverishment for millions of citizens, especially children, and ensured access to inexpensive health care. SNAP and Medicaid have assisted most low-income, struggling parents and helped generate employment (Enriquez & Goldstein, 2020). Additionally, housing aid has alleviated several problems that can impede children’s learning achievement, including repeated transfers and school changeover, as well as homelessness.
In conclusion, the four events discussed in the paper have had positive and negative impacts on low-income families in the United States. Despite accelerating economic development within the United States, the market revolution in the USA transformed the society into that of unpaid labor and enslavement, wealth and inequity, and limitless potential and unimaginable peril. The start of Head Start Program, on the other hand, has provided essential services to all preschoolers, including instructional, environmental, medical, and nourishment initiatives for low-income families. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen dreadful consequences suffered by low-income families together with their children. Income problems have been noticed during the COVID-19 epidemic, notably acute for the disadvantaged, especially those in low-wage, part-time paid work with minimal precautions.
Dooley, D. G., Bandealy, A., & Tschudy, M. M. (2020). Low-income children and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US. JAMA Pediatrics, 174(10), 922-923. Web.
Enriquez, D., & Goldstein, A. (2020). COVID-19’s Socioeconomic Impact on Low-Income Benefit Recipients: Early evidence from tracking surveys. Socius, 6, 1-17. Web.
Gagnon, J. (2017). The redistributive properties of the social security act of 1935. Res Publica-Journal of Undergraduate Research, 22(1), 10. Web.
Glen, J. M. (2017). The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History. Journal of Southern History, 83(1), 231-233. Web.
Hines, J. M. (2017). An Overview of head start program studies. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 18. Web.
Sano, Y., Mammen, S., & Houghten, M. (2021). Well-being and stability among low-income families: A 10-year review of research. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 42(1), 107-117. Web.
Van Doorn, N. (2017). Platform labor: on the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’ economy. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), 898-914. Web.
Van Lancker, W., & Parolin, Z. (2020). COVID-19, school closures, and child poverty: a social crisis in the making. The Lancet Public Health, 5(5), e243-e244. Web.