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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Office of Policy Planning and Research, United States Department of Labor
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1965

    The most difficult fact for white Americans to understand is that in these terms the circumstances of the Negro American community in recent years has probably been getting worse, not better.

    Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening.

    The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.

    The thesis of this paper is that these events, in combination,...

    The most difficult fact for white Americans to understand is that in these terms the circumstances of the Negro American community in recent years has probably been getting worse, not better.

    Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening.

    The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.

    The thesis of this paper is that these events, in combination, confront the nation with a new kind of problem. Measures that have worked in the past, or would work for most groups in the present, will not work here. A national effort is required that will give a unity of purpose to the many activities of the Federal government in this area, directed to a new kind of national goal: the establishment of a stable Negro family structure. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Orshansky, Mollie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1976

    The current official measure of poverty used by the Federal government was originally developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in the early sixties.  Her study, "Children of the Poor", first appeared in the July 1963 Social Security Bulletin, describing a methodology for developing income criteria of need by family size, for families with children.  In January 1965 the Social Security Bulletin contained another article by her entitled "Counting the Poor", which updated and extended the criteria to all types of households, she used as before, a concept of poverty based on budgets centering around cost of a diet which can sustain and adequate nutritional level at a minimal cost using a sliding scale of income requirements for different family sizes and compositions.  An additional refinement was the specification of a lower income level as the threshold for farm families.  This refinement reflected the assumption that farm families customarily obtain housing and food as part of the farm business operation, rather than by direct expenditure. (publisher...

    The current official measure of poverty used by the Federal government was originally developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in the early sixties.  Her study, "Children of the Poor", first appeared in the July 1963 Social Security Bulletin, describing a methodology for developing income criteria of need by family size, for families with children.  In January 1965 the Social Security Bulletin contained another article by her entitled "Counting the Poor", which updated and extended the criteria to all types of households, she used as before, a concept of poverty based on budgets centering around cost of a diet which can sustain and adequate nutritional level at a minimal cost using a sliding scale of income requirements for different family sizes and compositions.  An additional refinement was the specification of a lower income level as the threshold for farm families.  This refinement reflected the assumption that farm families customarily obtain housing and food as part of the farm business operation, rather than by direct expenditure. (publisher abstract)

    This  Technical Paper collects a number of important articles and papers by Mollie Orshansky and others about the development and early history of the poverty thresholds, including: 

    Mollie Orshansky, "Children of the Poor", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 7, July 1963, pp. 3-13.

    Mollie Orshansky, "Counting the Poor:  Another Look at the Poverty Profile", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29 — reprinted in Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 10, October 1988, pp. 25-51.

    Mollie Orshansky, "Who's Who Among the Poor:  A Demographic View of Poverty", Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 7, July 1965, pp. 3-32.

    Mollie Orshansky, "How poverty is measured", Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, February 1969, pp. 37-41.

  • Individual Author: Fisher, Gordon M.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1992

    In recent years there has been renewed interest in the United States in the definition and measurement of poverty. In early 1992, the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences began a 30 month study requested by Congress that includes an examination of statistical issues involved in measuring and understanding poverty. Some 2 years earlier, in January 1990, the Administration had approved an initiative on improving the quality of economic statistics. The current poverty measure was one of several dozen statistical series examined as part of that initiative. In April 1990, Urban Institute economist Patricia Ruggles published a book that urged the revision of the poverty line to reflect changes in consumption patterns and changing concepts of what constitutes a minimally adequate standard of living. In July 1990, two private organizations concerned with the poor and the elderly issued a report reviewing current poverty measurement procedures and describing a Gallup poll in which a nationally representative sample of Americans set an average dollar figure...

    In recent years there has been renewed interest in the United States in the definition and measurement of poverty. In early 1992, the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences began a 30 month study requested by Congress that includes an examination of statistical issues involved in measuring and understanding poverty. Some 2 years earlier, in January 1990, the Administration had approved an initiative on improving the quality of economic statistics. The current poverty measure was one of several dozen statistical series examined as part of that initiative. In April 1990, Urban Institute economist Patricia Ruggles published a book that urged the revision of the poverty line to reflect changes in consumption patterns and changing concepts of what constitutes a minimally adequate standard of living. In July 1990, two private organizations concerned with the poor and the elderly issued a report reviewing current poverty measurement procedures and describing a Gallup poll in which a nationally representative sample of Americans set an average dollar figure for the poverty line that was higher than the current official poverty line. In view of these and other examples, it may be useful to reexamine the development and subsequent history of the current official poverty thresholds. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Fein, David J. ; Beecroft, Erik; Blomquist, John D.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1994

    As in the current debate over the direction of national welfare reform, much of the inspiration for the 1988 Family Support Act (FSA) -- the last major reform -- was provided by a series of state demonstrations operating under federal waiver authority. Ohio’s Transitions to Independence Demonstration was one of the most comprehensive of the pre-1988 FSA waiver initiatives authorized by the Reagan Administration’s Low Income Advisory Board. Transitions to Independence consisted of three separate interventions, each directed to the needs of a different subpopulation of recipients of Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) is known in Ohio. (author abstract)

    As in the current debate over the direction of national welfare reform, much of the inspiration for the 1988 Family Support Act (FSA) -- the last major reform -- was provided by a series of state demonstrations operating under federal waiver authority. Ohio’s Transitions to Independence Demonstration was one of the most comprehensive of the pre-1988 FSA waiver initiatives authorized by the Reagan Administration’s Low Income Advisory Board. Transitions to Independence consisted of three separate interventions, each directed to the needs of a different subpopulation of recipients of Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) is known in Ohio. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Burkhauser, Richard V.; Couch, Kenneth A.; Glenn, Andrew J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1995

    This paper documents the declining relationship between low hourly wages and low household income over the last half-century and how this has reduced the share of minimum wage workers who live in poor households. It then compares recent and prospective increases in the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the minimum wage as methods of increasing the labor earnings of poor workers. Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) are used to simulate the effects of both programs. Increases in the EITC between 1989 and 1992 delivered a much larger proportion of a given dollar of benefits to the poor than did increases in the minimum wage from $3.35 to $4.25. Scheduled increases in the EITC through 1996 will also do far more for the working poor than raising the minimum wage. (author abstract)

    This paper documents the declining relationship between low hourly wages and low household income over the last half-century and how this has reduced the share of minimum wage workers who live in poor households. It then compares recent and prospective increases in the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the minimum wage as methods of increasing the labor earnings of poor workers. Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) are used to simulate the effects of both programs. Increases in the EITC between 1989 and 1992 delivered a much larger proportion of a given dollar of benefits to the poor than did increases in the minimum wage from $3.35 to $4.25. Scheduled increases in the EITC through 1996 will also do far more for the working poor than raising the minimum wage. (author abstract)

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