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$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America – Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer

8th September 2019
$2.00 a Day book cover


$2.00 a Day is a book about extreme poverty in United States of America (US). All the stories in this book are from real life people.


Both authors are working in academia. Kathryn J. Edin is a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She was named a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at John Hopkins University in 2015. H. Luke Shaefer is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan. Both of them specializes in the study of welfare system.


This book contains an introduction, 5 chapters and a conclusion. The first chapter is Welfare Is Dead. It is followed by Perilous Work. The third chapter is A Room of One’s Own. By Any Means Necessary is the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter is A World Apart. The conclusion contains the authors’ recommendations to alleviate the problem of $2-a-day poverty in US.


How to survive with $2 per day? It is not even enough for a meal in some areas of Malaysia. However, this is a reality that some unfortunate people in the world face. Although we generally think of US as a land of abundance, there are still US citizens who live below the poverty line. The people recorded in this book are just a small sample of this population.

Why does US have such a large number of poor people? It is said to have a good welfare system. This is the question that I have when I came upon this book. The authors give the answer early in the book. The increase of extremely poor people coincides with the welfare reform in the 1990s. Since the reform, many needy families are unable to get support from their government. The living condition of these poor people are bad but they are still trying to get by. A large number does not hold a permanent job and those who are working cannot get enough money from their salaries.

In the book, the authors suggest 3 ways to combat extreme poverty. First, provide opportunity to work. Second, provide affordable  accommodation for the needful people. Third, ensure the parents’ and their children’s well-being. I think that these approaches can be applied anywhere in the world. Though these people are poor, they still have hopes and many still dream of getting a stable job that pays well. With enough help, the majority of these people should be able to climb out from poverty and contribute to the society.


  1. One way the poor pay for government aid is with their time.
  2. A little bit of cash means a little bit of freedom.
  3. Too often, America has gone down the road of trying to shame those in need.


2 out of 3 stars

Interested in $2.00 a Day?

You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.

Get the book here

*Disclosure: The above link is Involve Asia affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through this link.

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