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ERIC Number: ED455925
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Jun
Pages: 28
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Let the War on the Poverty Line Commence. Working Paper Series.
Bernstein, Jared
Both social scientists and politicians agree that the way poverty is measured in the United States is inadequate. Noting that this metric influences our understanding of the extent of economic deprivation and influences the provision of social supports, this report presents various options to the current measurement and suggests a replacement for the current poverty line measure. The report argues that a poverty line measure should categorize families such that those who fall below it cannot adequately meet their basic needs, given what is known about human needs and prevailing living standards. It is asserted that the current measure is out of date; fails to reflect changes in consumption and relative spending; excludes non-cash resources, work expenses, and taxes; and neglects geographical differences in the cost of living. The report puts forth the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) method as the leading contender to replace the current measure because of its separate treatment of the needs and the resources side of the equation. This approach as implemented by the Census Bureau also appears to be more sensitive to the business cycle than the official poverty line measure. The family budget approach and the half-the-median income approach are also discussed as possibilities, as is the use of standardized rates with the NAS method. The report includes recommendations for improving the NAS method. Suggestions are given for advocating change in the measurement of poverty, including a focused movement with one simply articulated goal of replacing the current poverty measure with a better one, offering a positive rationale for the change, unifying the social science and advocacy communities around a single approach, and enlisting political representatives in the cause. (KB)
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Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Foundation for Child Development, New York, NY.