A New Statistic

Philip N. Jefferson

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393781
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

A New Statistic

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In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau formally introduced a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)—a response to the view that the official poverty rate does not provide an accurate count of who is poor in the United States. This article describes the SPM and highlights some of the strengths and limitations of this new statistic. The SPM improves on the official poverty measure by accounting for in-kind benefits and expenses in the calculation of resources, and by using data on expenditures on food, clothing, shelter, and utilities in the calculation of poverty thresholds. Further, these thresholds are adjusted for geographical differences in housing costs and are updated by using a moving average of expenditures. For 2010, the SPM poverty rates suggest a significant change in the composition of poverty in the United States relative to that suggested by the official measure. In particular, the SPM suggests that child poverty is less prevalent and that poverty among the elderly is more prevalent. It also suggests that poverty is more prevalent in the Northeast and Western regions of the country and less prevalent in the Midwest and Southern regions.

Keywords: Supplemental Poverty Measure; poverty measures; poverty rates; poor

Article.  3124 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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