It’s Not Cheap To Be Poor

Kaitlin Mahar

The impoverished obviously have less, but did you know being poor is more expensive? A University of Michigan study regarding toilet paper found that the poor spend nearly an extra 6 percent on household staples. The Census Bureau reported that over 45 million people live below the poverty line. That’s a lot of toilet paper, and even more (unfair) charges.

As explained by The Washington Post, because poor people can’t afford to buy items like toilet paper in bulk, unlike the middle class, they end up paying extra. The Economist reports that “inflation has been higher for those in poverty for 139 of 168 months” from 2000-13 and “prices rose 3.2% more for the poor over this period.” Look in the supermarket – a toilet paper twelve-pack costs $12.99 and a single roll costs $2.99. Clearly, because each of the twelve rolls amounts to approximately $1.09, you buy the twelve-pack. However, the poor can’t necessarily spend $12.99 on toilet paper, and are forced to spend $2.99 on a single roll, which is about $1.90 extra.

Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer says: “The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing … [They] pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted.” And it’s true, the poor are being charged more for necessities that they’re struggling to afford in the first place, while the middle class pays less.
So the question arises again: Should the poor be punished for their poverty?