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Using the Consumer Expenditure Survey to Teach Poverty Measurement


  • Amy McCormick Diduch


Poverty measurement is often controversial, but good public policy relies crucially on a broadly supported and understood poverty measure. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would begin regular reporting of a new supplemental poverty measure in October 2011. The present article provides background information for a student exercise (available, on request, from the author) on alternative poverty measurement techniques. The exercise allows students to use current data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (available through the Bureau of Labor Statistics at ; U.S. Department of Labor 2010) and other sources to calculate and compare several absolute and relative poverty thresholds. The exercise invites students to draw their own conclusions about the pros and cons of different measures, including the new supplemental measure. Data sources are easily updated as new information becomes available.

Suggested Citation

  • Amy McCormick Diduch, 2012. "Using the Consumer Expenditure Survey to Teach Poverty Measurement," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 99-106, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:43:y:2012:i:1:p:99-106
    DOI: 10.1080/00220485.2012.636714

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