USD Just Read!

$2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

USD Just Read! encourages literacy and deep dialogue on social themes presented through outstanding literature. The program promotes active learning and reading not only within the USD community but within the San Diego community at large. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the book selection is $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, written by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. Various CEE programs are offered this fall, including a keynote address from Luke Shaefer, a faculty led panel discussion, and related films.

*Please contact us if you are interested in possible programming, course and syllabus integration, or any other collaborative projects for this academic year.


$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer


"After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. 

Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. 

The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality."

Summary courtesy of Good Reads

About the Authors

Kathryn J. Edin 

"I am the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Sociology, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health. I received my Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University in 1991 and I have also taught at Rutgers University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and, most recently, Harvard University as a Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School and chair of their Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy.  I am a Trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation.  I am a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Network on Housing and Families with Young Children and a past member of the MacArthur Network on the Family and the Economy.  In 2014 I became a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. I live in Baltimore with my husband Tim, and I have two daughters, Kaitlin and Marisa."

H. Luke Shaefer

"H. Luke Shaefer, Ph.D. is the director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, an interdisciplinary, university-level initiative that seeks to inform, identify, and test innovative strategies to prevent and alleviate poverty. He is an associate professor at the University of Michigan, School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals such as Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and the American Journal of Public Health, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, among other sources. Shaefer has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has consulted with a number of the nation’s largest social service providers as well as numerous community-based agencies. His work has been cited in the New York Times, the Washington PostNational ReviewThe AtlanticVox, the LA Times, and Huffington Post, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace, and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His recent book with Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review, and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, among other awards."

$2.00 a Day Resources

Email for additional resources available on the Blackboard website.

Online Articles




  • National Geographic
  • "In the news, people in other cultures seem stranger than they are. We visited 264 families in 50 countries and collected 30,000 photos. We sorted the homes by income, from left to right. See how people really live." - Dollar Street

Classroom Materials

Here are Some of the Key Collaborators for Events Related to USD Just Read!

Center for Educational Excellence • College of Arts & Sciences • School of Business • Changemaker HUB • Center for Inclusion & Diversity • School of Leadership and Education Sciences • Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering • Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies • Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action •  Student Affairs • Provost’s Office • United Front Multicultural Commons • University Ministry • Center for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy •  Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture • University Galleries •  Hahn School Of Nursing and Health Science

$2.00 a Day Blackboard Organization 

A Blackboard Organization has been set up to reference and share resource materials related to this year’s USD Just Read selection. All USD faculty and staff are welcome to become members. If you are interested in having access to this Blackboard Organization, contact the CEE by phone (619-260-7402) or email ( and request to be enrolled.