The Extent of Material Hardship and Poverty in the United States
The Census Bureau has estimated the nation's annual poverty rate since 1963 using data from the Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted in March of each year. Census deems a household “poor” if annual income falls below specified income thresholds. There are two problems with this methodology. First, the Current Population Survey dramatically undercounts household economic resources. Second, the fact that household income falls below a specific level reveals little about the nature of material deprivation within the household. This paper will take an alternative approach to assessing poverty: examining the material living conditions of low-income Americans. Using data from various government surveys this paper examines ownership of property and consumer durables; housing space, and housing conditions; food and nutriment consumption; and the height, thinness and obesity of low-income persons. Finally, we attempt an overall assessment of material deprivation based on material living conditions.
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Volume (Year): 57 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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