IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Further Results on Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption

  • Bruce D. Meyer
  • James X. Sullivan

In the U.S., analyses of poverty rates and the effects of anti-poverty programs rely almost exclusively on income data. In earlier work (Meyer and Sullivan, 2003) we emphasized that conceptual arguments generally favor using consumption data to measure the wellbeing of the poor, and, on balance, data quality issues favor consumption in the case of single mothers. Our earlier work did not show that income and consumption differ in practice. Here we further examine data quality issues and show that important conclusions about recent trends depend on whether one uses consumption or income. Changes in the distribution of resources for single mothers differ sharply in recent years depending on whether measured by income or consumption. Measures of overall and sub-group poverty also sharply differ. In addition to examining broader populations and a longer time period, we also consider new dimensions of data quality such as survey and item nonresponse, imputation, and precision. Finally, we demonstrate the flaws in recent research that concludes that consumption and income trends are similar for disadvantaged households, and that consumption data at the bottom are of lower quality than income data.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found ( [301 Moved Permanently]--> [301 Moved Permanently]--> If this is indeed the case, please notify (Eleanor Cartelli)

Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0719.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0719
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-8400
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2002. "Asking Consumption Questions in General Purpose Surveys," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 77, McMaster University.
  2. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
  7. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
  8. Sawhill, Isabel V, 1988. "Poverty in the U.S.: Why Is It So Persistent?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1073-119, September.
  9. Kasia O'Neill Murray & Wendell E. Primus, 2005. "Recent Data Trends Show Welfare Reform to Be a Mixed Success: Significant Policy Changes Should Accompany Reauthorization," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 22(3), pages 301-324, 05.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0719. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Eleanor Cartelli)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.