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Identifying The Poor: Poverty Measurement For The U.S. From 1996 To 2005


  • Thesia I. Garner
  • Kathleen S. Short


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. Copyright 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation International Association for Research in Income and Wealth 2010.

Suggested Citation

  • Thesia I. Garner & Kathleen S. Short, 2010. "Identifying The Poor: Poverty Measurement For The U.S. From 1996 To 2005," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(2), pages 237-258, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:56:y:2010:i:2:p:237-258

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kilpatrick, Robert W, 1973. "The Income Elasticity of the Poverty Line," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(3), pages 327-332, August.
    2. John Iceland & Kathleen Short & Thesia I. Garner & David Johnson, 2001. "Are Children Worse off?: Evaluating Well-Being Using a New (And Improved) Measure of Poverty," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 398-412.
    3. 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.
    4. Atkinson, Tony & Cantillon, Bea & Marlier, Eric & Nolan, Brian, 2002. "Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199253494.
    5. 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.
    6. Short, Kathleen, et al, 1998. "Poverty-Measurement Research Using the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 352-356, May.
    7. Carolyn J. Hill & Robert T. Michael, 2001. "Measuring Poverty in the NLSY97," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(4), pages 727-761.
    8. Rebecca M. Blank, 2008. "Presidential address: How to improve poverty measurement in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 233-254.
    9. Angus Deaton & Valerie Kozel, 2005. "Data and Dogma: The Great Indian Poverty Debate," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 177-199.
    10. Timothy Smeeding, 2005. "Causes and Conditions of Social Vulnerability in Comparative Perspective: Asian Evidence from the LIS Dataset," LIS Working papers 417, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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