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Creating a Consistent Poverty Measure Over Time Using NAS Procedures: 1996-2005

  • Thesia I. Garner

    ()

    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Katherine S. Short

    ()

    (U.S. Census Bureau)

Registered author(s):

    This paper presents an experimental poverty measure and compares it to the current official measure, now more than 40 years old. The experimental measure is based on an approach, drawn from work by a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) expert Panel, to consistently define basic needs and family resources. The experimental thresholds are based on out-of-pocket spending by families on basic goods and services and are based on an “outflows” concept. The resource measure is based on an “inflows” concept and reflects money coming into the household that is available to meet one’s basic needs. The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey serves as the basis for the experimental thresholds and the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement serves as the basis for the resource measure. Results for 1996 to 2005 are reported with trends examined. An important finding is that increases in expenditures for shelter and utilities, captured in the new thresholds, suggest a greater increase in the number of families not able to meet basic needs than is reflected by the official poverty statistics.

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    File URL: http://www.bls.gov/ore/pdf/ec080030.pdf
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    Paper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 417.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: May 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec080030
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    1. Thesia I. Garner & Kathleen Short, 2005. "Economic Well-Being Based on Income, Consumer Expenditures and Personal Assessments of Minimal Needs," Working Papers 381, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    2. 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.
    3. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 5590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Trudi Renwick, 1998. "Basic Needs Budgets Revisited: Does the U.S. Consumer Price Index Overestimate the Changes in the Cost of Living for Low-Income Families?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 129-142.
    8. Robert K. Triest, 1998. "Has Poverty Gotten Worse?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 97-114, Winter.
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