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POVERTY RATES CHANGE LITTLE, DESPITE WELFARE PROGRAMS

Though Western democracies have tried various welfare plans to help their poor, poverty rates haven't changed much, says a University of Rochester political scientist.

In many Western European countries, poverty rates have been between 5 and 10 percent for decades, says Professor Edward J. Bird.For nearly three decades in the United States, the poverty rate has never been more than three points above or below 14 percent, regardless of grant levels, work or job training requirements or day care, according to Bird.

Needs and incomes go up together, says Bird, so there are always some people who are poor compared to the rest of the population.