$2.00 a Day by By Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

$2.00 a Day by By Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer$2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1st 2015
Source: Library
Pages: 240
Buy from IndieBound


After researching American poverty for over two decades, Kathryn Edin began to notice that vast numbers of households were living with almost no income. Edin and Shaefer discovered nearly 1.5 million households surviving on just $2.00 per person, per day, which put them well below the federal poverty line. Their new book collects some of these stories—pulled from vastly different areas of the country—in an effort to show what life is like and explain how we, as a nation, can work to fix the system we’ve allowed to fail.

“One way the poor pay for government aid is with their time.”

$2.00 a Day is particularly important in the current political climate, where so many see welfare as a giant system supporting lazy families searching for “free stuff“. Edin and Shaefer show just how far this is from the truth by focusing on how little government aid is available for many Americans, how that availability has changed over time, and the societal factors that can make it virtually impossible to rise from deep poverty.

While the stories in $2.00 a Day will be shocking to some, for many they will be a reminder of either of their own experiences or situations they have long been aware of. Still, when compiled, the book makes an incredibly strong and compelling case for desperately necessary reform.


  • Christy

    Based on the title, I thought it was going to be a stunt memoir. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with those, but I was glad to see that these are a collection of stories from throughout the country.

  • I have been reading about this in the way they are saying it translates to the UK and what our government are doing. It’s by way of a warning and it sounds scary!

    • I just read that article! Definitely scary. Even living here, I hadn’t realized how deeply connected all of this was to the changes made in the welfare system until reading this.

  • Sounds scary, alarming, sad, and an important book!

  • >>>One way the poor pay for government aid is with their time.

    God is this ever true. They pay with time and with hassle. It’s like hungry families will only be deserving of food if they have to jump through zillions of hoops to get money for food. Blah.

  • Definitely want to read this one; thanks for sharing some of your thoughts, Shannon!

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  • This sounds like a very worthwhile, informative book. It sounds similar to Nickled and Dimed, which I think I read for a community read kind of thing my freshman year of undergrad.

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