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In 2005, 37 million people, approximately 13 percent of the total population, lived below the poverty line, as defined by the Census Bureau. Poverty imposes costs on the nation in terms of both programmatic outlays and productivity losses that can affect the economy as a whole. To better understand the potential range of effects of poverty, GAO was asked to examine (1) what the economic research tells us about the relationship between poverty and adverse social conditions, such as poor health outcomes, crime, and labor force attachment, and (2) what links economic research has found between poverty and economic growth. To answer these questions, GAO reviewed the economic literature by academic experts, think tanks, and government agencies, and reviewed additional literature by searching various databases for peer-reviewed economic journals, specialty journals, and books. We also provided our draft report for review by experts on this topic.

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