Thomas Hirschl of Cornell University and Mark Rank of Washington University developed the calculator with the goal of alerting Americans to economic dangers that they may face in the future, so that they can prepare accordingly.
“Many Americans may be asking themselves, ‘How much personal economic risk do I face in the future?’ Furthermore, ‘How does my risk differ from that of others?’ With these questions in mind, we set about to construct a new tool that allows individuals to look into the future and calculate their own economic risk in the years ahead,” the calculator’s website reads.
They explained that the idea behind the tool is similar in logic to heart disease calculators readily available online. By allowing a user to enter specific demographic characteristics they can gauge their risk of poverty in the next 5, 10, or 15 years. Users can also change certain aspects of their profile to see how different factors could change their outcome.
The analysis is based on the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, who have tracked the economics of a nationally representative group of 5,000 American households for the last 50 years.
Sadly, the analysis found that over half of the nation’s population will experience poverty during their working years, Alternet reported.
Looking at the marriage factor, people in their mid-thirties who are married face a much smaller risk than their unwed counterparts.
“In terms of marriage, a similar disparity emerges. For both white and non-white unmarried Americans in their mid-30s, the risk is substantially higher than for those who are married. By logical extension, the most at-risk citizens are unmarried non-white Americans with a high school or less education, who are on average 10 times more likely to fall into poverty than their married, white and educated counterparts,” Robin Scher wrote for Alternet.
On the bright side, Hirschl and Rank told the Washington Post that the majority of Americans do manage to leave poverty within one to three years, and only a small minority remain in it for extended period of time.