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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: Gould, Elise; Cooper, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Policymakers considering changes to social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare must consider the economic realities confronting elderly Americans. Many of America’s 41 million seniors are just one bad economic shock away from significant material hardship. Most seniors live on modest retirement incomes, which often are barely adequate—and sometimes inadequate—to cover the costs of basic necessities and support a simple, yet dignified, quality of life. For these seniors, and even for those with greater means, Social Security and Medicare are the bedrock of their financial security. Any proposed changes to these programs must be evaluated not just for their impact on future budget deficits, but for their impact on living standards of the elderly. In this study, we use the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from the U.S. Census Bureau to assess the economic health of the elderly population in the United States, overall and by age, gender, and race and ethnicity. Using evidence on elderly economic insecurity from Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), we identify...

    Policymakers considering changes to social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare must consider the economic realities confronting elderly Americans. Many of America’s 41 million seniors are just one bad economic shock away from significant material hardship. Most seniors live on modest retirement incomes, which often are barely adequate—and sometimes inadequate—to cover the costs of basic necessities and support a simple, yet dignified, quality of life. For these seniors, and even for those with greater means, Social Security and Medicare are the bedrock of their financial security. Any proposed changes to these programs must be evaluated not just for their impact on future budget deficits, but for their impact on living standards of the elderly. In this study, we use the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from the U.S. Census Bureau to assess the economic health of the elderly population in the United States, overall and by age, gender, and race and ethnicity. Using evidence on elderly economic insecurity from Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), we identify the share of the elderly population that is particularly vulnerable to changes in social programs. Our analysis enables us to estimate how proposed increased cost-sharing by Medicare beneficiaries or reduced Social Security benefits would impact the well-being of a significant portion of the elderly population. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Cable, Dustin A.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    The Virginia Poverty Measure (VPM) was developed to give policy makers, program providers, and the public a more contemporary and accurate picture of the Virginia population in economic distress. To do so, this work follows many of the recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences seminal 1995 report Measuring Poverty: A New Approach, which outlines improvements to be made in the United States official poverty measure. Specifically, in contrast to the official national poverty measure, the Virginia Poverty Measure includes (1) regional differences in the cost of living; (2) updated thresholds that account for a broader array of goods, and reflect the consumption patterns of contemporary American families; and (3) a broader definition of income and resources that better captures the true financial circumstances of Virginians. (Author abstract)

    The Virginia Poverty Measure (VPM) was developed to give policy makers, program providers, and the public a more contemporary and accurate picture of the Virginia population in economic distress. To do so, this work follows many of the recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences seminal 1995 report Measuring Poverty: A New Approach, which outlines improvements to be made in the United States official poverty measure. Specifically, in contrast to the official national poverty measure, the Virginia Poverty Measure includes (1) regional differences in the cost of living; (2) updated thresholds that account for a broader array of goods, and reflect the consumption patterns of contemporary American families; and (3) a broader definition of income and resources that better captures the true financial circumstances of Virginians. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Engelhardt, Will ; Skinner, Curtis
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    To better understand poverty and find the best strategies to reduce it, states and localities need to know who is poor, why they are poor, and what policies work best for different groups. Rather than rely on the official poverty measure, in use since the early 1960s, several states and localities have taken the lead in developing new measures of poverty that more accurately account for the resources available to their residents as well as their needs. Supported by a strong body of innovative research from the federal government and public policy research organizations, these new measures not only more accurately gauge the level of poverty but offer a cost-effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Improved poverty measurement also helps policymakers identify effective new programs to assist vulnerable populations in meeting their families’ often-pressing needs.

    This brief provides an up-to-date look at how pioneering states and localities are using – or plan to use – improved poverty measurement to build smarter social policy. In a difficult...

    To better understand poverty and find the best strategies to reduce it, states and localities need to know who is poor, why they are poor, and what policies work best for different groups. Rather than rely on the official poverty measure, in use since the early 1960s, several states and localities have taken the lead in developing new measures of poverty that more accurately account for the resources available to their residents as well as their needs. Supported by a strong body of innovative research from the federal government and public policy research organizations, these new measures not only more accurately gauge the level of poverty but offer a cost-effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Improved poverty measurement also helps policymakers identify effective new programs to assist vulnerable populations in meeting their families’ often-pressing needs.

    This brief provides an up-to-date look at how pioneering states and localities are using – or plan to use – improved poverty measurement to build smarter social policy. In a difficult fiscal climate, investing in better measures to estimate poverty and evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs is sound practice that will enable policymakers to quantify whether and how interventions are improving outcomes for children and their families. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Czajka, John L.; Denmead, Gabrielle
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    Income is a critical classification variable for policy-related analyses, and together with poverty status is often key in the development of public policy. Most federal household surveys collect some income data and provide measures of poverty status. Yet income is difficult to measure in household surveys, and poverty status depends on how a family is defined, which differs markedly across surveys. Despite many similarities, there are also many differences in the income and poverty concepts used, and different surveys provide markedly differing estimates of income and poverty.
    Under contract to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) and its subcontractor, Denmead Services & Consulting, have conducted a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the income data and their utility for policy-related analyses in eight major surveys: the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP); the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population...

    Income is a critical classification variable for policy-related analyses, and together with poverty status is often key in the development of public policy. Most federal household surveys collect some income data and provide measures of poverty status. Yet income is difficult to measure in household surveys, and poverty status depends on how a family is defined, which differs markedly across surveys. Despite many similarities, there are also many differences in the income and poverty concepts used, and different surveys provide markedly differing estimates of income and poverty.
    Under contract to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) and its subcontractor, Denmead Services & Consulting, have conducted a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the income data and their utility for policy-related analyses in eight major surveys: the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP); the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS); the American Community Survey (ACS); the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS); the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey Cost and Use files (MCBS); the Health and Retirement Study (HRS); and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

    The assessment focuses on three issues:
    -The quality and usability of each survey’s income and poverty data for policy-related analyses
    -The overall impact of different design and methodological approaches
    -Specific design and processing choices that may be related to the quality and utility of income and poverty data in each survey (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Short, Kathleen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Last year the U.S. Census Bureau, with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released the first report describing research on the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).The SPM extends the information provided by the official poverty measure by including many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the current official poverty measure. The current official poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s, and only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1969 (Orshansky, 1963, 1965a, 1965b; Fisher, 1992). The official measure consists of a set of thresholds for families of different sizes and compositions that are compared to before-tax cash income to determine a family’s poverty status. At the time they were developed, the official poverty thresholds represented the cost of a minimum diet multiplied by three (to allow for expenditures on other goods and services).

    Concerns about...

    Last year the U.S. Census Bureau, with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released the first report describing research on the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).The SPM extends the information provided by the official poverty measure by including many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the current official poverty measure. The current official poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s, and only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1969 (Orshansky, 1963, 1965a, 1965b; Fisher, 1992). The official measure consists of a set of thresholds for families of different sizes and compositions that are compared to before-tax cash income to determine a family’s poverty status. At the time they were developed, the official poverty thresholds represented the cost of a minimum diet multiplied by three (to allow for expenditures on other goods and services).

    Concerns about the adequacy of the official measure have increased during the past decades (Ruggles, 1990), culminating in a Congressional appropriation in 1990 for an independent scientific study of the concepts, measurement methods, and information needed for a poverty measure. In response, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) established the Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance, which released its report, titled Measuring Poverty: A New Approach, in the spring of 1995 (Citro and Michael, 1995). Based on its assessment of the weaknesses of the current poverty measure, this NAS panel of experts recommended having a measure that better reflects contemporary social and economic realities and government policy. In their report, the NAS panel identified several major weaknesses of the current poverty measure.

    This report presents a poverty measure that is based largely on the NAS Panel’s recommendations, with deviations reflecting more recent research and suggestions from the ITWG. Particular emphasis is on internal consistency between the thresholds and resources. The NAS Panel noted: “It is important that family resources are defined consistently with the threshold concept in any poverty measure.” The SPM, as defined by the ITWG, is an internally consistent poverty measure that is based on spending “outflows” and money “inflows.” Spending outflows, or outlays are those for basic needs only: food, clothing, shelter, utilities, and other basic necessary goods and services. Resources include money income from all sources plus the value of near-money benefits that help the family meet spending needs, less necessary expenses, like work-related expenses and taxes that must be paid. A family is designated as poor if its annual money inflow, net of necessary expenses, falls below the threshold level of money outflow. (author abstract)

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