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.