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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: Romero, Jessie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    For decades, the official poverty rate has been criticized by economists, policymakers, and activists from both the left and the right. A variety of incremental improvements and wholesale changes have been proposed by both federal and private sector researchers. What these research efforts show, however, is not that one definition of poverty is unequivocally correct, but rather how challenging poverty is to define. (author abstract)

    For decades, the official poverty rate has been criticized by economists, policymakers, and activists from both the left and the right. A variety of incremental improvements and wholesale changes have been proposed by both federal and private sector researchers. What these research efforts show, however, is not that one definition of poverty is unequivocally correct, but rather how challenging poverty is to define. (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: Wight, Vanessa; Kaushal, Neeraj; Waldfogel, Jane; Garfinkel, Irwin
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2014

    This paper examines the association between poverty and food insecurity among children, using two different definitions of poverty – the official poverty measure (OPM) and the new supplemental poverty measure (SPM) of the Census Bureau, which is based on a more inclusive definition of family resources and needs. Our analysis is based on data from the 2001–2011 Current Population Survey and shows that food insecurity and very low food security among children decline as income-to-needs ratio increases. The point estimates show that the associations are stronger as measured by the new supplemental measure of income-to-needs ratio than when estimated through the official measure. Statistical tests reject the hypothesis that poor households' odds of experiencing low food security are the same whether the SPM or OPM measure is used; but the tests do not reject the hypothesis when very low food security is the outcome. (author abstract)

    This article was based on a previously published working paper from...

    This paper examines the association between poverty and food insecurity among children, using two different definitions of poverty – the official poverty measure (OPM) and the new supplemental poverty measure (SPM) of the Census Bureau, which is based on a more inclusive definition of family resources and needs. Our analysis is based on data from the 2001–2011 Current Population Survey and shows that food insecurity and very low food security among children decline as income-to-needs ratio increases. The point estimates show that the associations are stronger as measured by the new supplemental measure of income-to-needs ratio than when estimated through the official measure. Statistical tests reject the hypothesis that poor households' odds of experiencing low food security are the same whether the SPM or OPM measure is used; but the tests do not reject the hypothesis when very low food security is the outcome. (author abstract)

    This article was based on a previously published working paper from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research.

  • 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)

  • Individual Author: McMahon, Shawn; Horning, Jessica
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Since the onset of the Great Recession, the nation has been focused on a steady stream of mostly discouraging unemployment, poverty and housing foreclosure numbers. While this data is important, it tells us only about those suffering the most severe of financial crises. It does not help identify the millions within the United States who live above the poverty line and yet struggle to pay ever-increasing housing, food, health care and other expenses.

    Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) has compared working-age adults’ earnings and household incomes to The Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) for the United States, a measure of the basic needs and assets workers and their households require for economic security. Living Below the Line: Economic Insecurity and America’s Families compares pre-tax incomes from 2007 through 2011 to BEST basic needs budgets for more than 400 family types, and finds that approximately 45% of Americans live on incomes that fail to provide basic economic security. This report identifies who, specifically, within the United States is living below...

    Since the onset of the Great Recession, the nation has been focused on a steady stream of mostly discouraging unemployment, poverty and housing foreclosure numbers. While this data is important, it tells us only about those suffering the most severe of financial crises. It does not help identify the millions within the United States who live above the poverty line and yet struggle to pay ever-increasing housing, food, health care and other expenses.

    Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) has compared working-age adults’ earnings and household incomes to The Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) for the United States, a measure of the basic needs and assets workers and their households require for economic security. Living Below the Line: Economic Insecurity and America’s Families compares pre-tax incomes from 2007 through 2011 to BEST basic needs budgets for more than 400 family types, and finds that approximately 45% of Americans live on incomes that fail to provide basic economic security. This report identifies who, specifically, within the United States is living below the BEST Indexes. It tells an important story about the contemporary value of work and the relationship between economic security and gender, race/ethnicity, family structure and education. (author abstract)

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