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Economic Well-Being Based on Income, Consumer Expenditures and Personal Assessments of Minimal Needs

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Author Info

  • Thesia I. Garner

    ()
    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Kathleen Short

    (U.S. Census Bureau)

Abstract

Responses to minimum income and minimum spending questions are used to produce economic well-being thresholds. Thresholds are estimated using a regression framework. Regression coefficients are based on U.S. Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data and then applied to U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data. Three different resource measures are compared to the estimated thresholds. The first resource measure is total before-tax money income, and the other two are expenditure based. The first of these two refers to expenditure outlays and the second to outlays adjusted for the value of the service flow of owner-occupied housing (rental equivalence). The income comparison is based on SIPP data while the outlays comparisons are based on CE data. Results using official poverty thresholds are shown for comparison. This is among the earliest work in the U.S. in which expenditure outlays have been used for economic well-being determinations in combination with personal assessments, and the first time rental equivalence has been used in such an exercise. Comparisons of expenditures for various bundles of commodities are compared to the CE derived thresholds to provide insight concerning what might be considered minimum or basic. Results reveal that CE and SIPP MIQ thresholds are higher than MSQ thresholds, and resulting poverty rates are also higher with the MIQ. CE-based MSQ thresholds are not statistically different from average expenditure outlays for food, apparel, and shelter and utilities for primary residences. When reported rental equivalences for primary residences that are owner occupied are substituted for out-of-pocket shelter expenditures, single elderly are less likely to be as badly off as they would be with a strict outlays approach in defining resources.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 381.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec050070

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Keywords: well-being; sufficiency; poverty; income; expenditures; Consumer Expenditure Survey; Survey of Income and Program Participation;

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References

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  1. Diane Colasanto & Arie Kapteyn & Jacques van der Gaag, 1984. "Two Subjective Definitions of Poverty: Results from the Wisconsin Basic Needs Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(1), pages 127-138.
  2. Danziger, Sheldon, et al, 1984. "The Direct Measurement of Welfare Levels: How Much Does It Cost to Make Ends Meet?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(3), pages 500-505, August.
  3. Van Praag, Bernard, 1971. "The welfare function of income in Belgium: An empirical investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 337-369.
  4. Goedhart, T. & Halberstadt, V. & Praag, B.M.S. van & Kapteyn, A.J., 1977. "The poverty line: Concept and measurement," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-361898, Tilburg University.
  5. Craig Gundersen & Victor Oliveira, 2001. "The Food Stamp Program and Food Insufficiency," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 875-887.
  6. Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
  7. de Vos, Klaas & Garner, Thesia I, 1991. "An Evaluation of Subjective Poverty Definitions: Comparing Results from the U.S. and the Netherlands," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 267-85, September.
  8. Thesia I. Garner & Kathleen Short, 2005. "Personal Assessments of Minimum Income and Expenses: What Do They Tell Us about 'Minimum Living' Thresholds and Equivalence Scales?," Working Papers 379, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  9. Björn Gustafsson & Li Shi & Hiroshi Sato, 2004. "Can a subjective poverty line be applied to China? Assessing poverty among urban residents in 1999," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(8), pages 1089-1107.
  10. Trudi J. Renwick & Barbara R. Bergmann, 1993. "A Budget-Based Definition of Poverty: With an Application to Single-Parent Families," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-24.
  11. Menno Pradhan & Martin Ravallion, 2000. "Measuring Poverty Using Qualitative Perceptions Of Consumption Adequacy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 462-471, August.
  12. Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Lanjouw, Peter, 2001. "How to Compare Apples and Oranges: Poverty Measurement Based on Different Definitions of Consumption," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 25-42, March.
  13. Hagenaars, Aldi J M & van Praag, Bernard M S, 1985. "A Synthesis of Poverty Line Definitions," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 31(2), pages 139-54, June.
  14. Arie Kapteyn & Peter Kooreman & Rob Willemse, 1988. "Some Methodological Issues in the Implementation of Subjective Poverty Definitions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(2), pages 222-242.
  15. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1993. "Gaining Ground: Poverty in the Postwar United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-38, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Economic Well-Being at Older Ages: Income- and Consumption-Based Poverty Measures in the HRS," Working Papers 410, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  2. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Consumption and Economic Well-Being at Older Ages: Income- and Consumption-Based Poverty Measures in the HRS," Working Papers wp110, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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