Jul 27, 2021

More About ALICE

Households fluctuate above and below the ALICE threshold over time. For instance, an ALICE household may capitalize on their education and move above the threshold, an ALICE household may experience a health emergency, lose a job, or suffer a disaster and unexpectedly slip into poverty.

While about 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s senior households are in poverty, 33 percent of senior households qualify as ALICE, illustrating how programs like social security benefits do not often enable financial stability. In fact, many senior households continue to work, and although some work by choice, others are forced to do so in order to stay out of poverty. In Pennsylvania’s 65- to 74-year-old age group, 27 percent are in the labor force.

Families headed by single women with children are much more likely to struggle financially; in 2017, 74 percent of Pennsylvania families headed by a single female had income below the ALICE threshold. Unfortunately, these circumstances are compounded by the fact that, in Pennsylvania, as in all states, women still earn significantly less on average than men.

A lack of financial savings can limit an ALICE family’s ability to make a down payment on a house, for example, even if the monthly mortgage payments would be cheaper than renting. It limits their ability to invest in the future, and in such things as higher education or retirement savings. A lack of savings can also leave ALICE households vulnerable to unexpected economic events and emergencies.