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IDENTIFYING THE POOR: POVERTY MEASUREMENT FOR THE U.S. FROM 1996 TO 2005

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The poverty measure presented compares spending needs to resources available to meet those needs. The analysis is for the U.S.; however, lessons from other countries regarding desirable properties of a poverty measure are considered. A primary focus is internal consistency between thresholds and resources. This study is among the first for the U.S. to describe an internally consistent poverty measure, drawing from recommendations of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Thresholds reflect spending needs as “outflows.” Resources measure “inflows” available to meet spending needs. The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey is used for thresholds, and the Current Population Survey is the basis for resources. Trends are reported with comparisons to the official and a relative measure. An important finding is that increases in expenditures for shelter, captured in the NAS thresholds, suggest a greater increase in the number of families not able to meet basic needs than is reflected by official poverty statistics over this time period.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2: U.S. Census Bureau

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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