- About SSRC
- Search Library
- Stay Connected
- Use Data
- Browse Topics
- My SSRC
You are here
General Research on Income and Poverty
General Research on Income and Poverty
According to the US Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2012 was 15.0– down slightly from 15.1 percent in 2010. After an increase of 2.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2010 (from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent), the poverty rate has stagnated, decreasing only 0.1 percentage point between 2010 and 2012. The official poverty threshold is based on the costs of food for different types of families. Other measures of poverty are based on different thresholds of need, definitions of income, or regional adjustments and may show different trends.
The number of people in poverty in 2012 (46.5 million) is the largest number in the 54 years for which poverty estimates have been published. Numerous studies have examined the effects of programs and policies on poverty and other economic self-sufficiency outcomes, such as income, earnings, and employment. The General Research on Income and Poverty section explores theories, trends, measures, and predictors and outcomes as they relate to income and poverty for low-income individuals and families.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on General Research on Income and Poverty and relevant Federal laws and regulations below.
Poverty measures establish the income level used to determine whether a family/individual lives in poverty. Poverty measures also provide a framework for understanding the number and demographics of people living in poverty. Alternative measures have been developed at the federal, state, and local levels to supplement the official poverty measure, which the U.S. Census Bureau reports annually. Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers are using the official poverty measure, supplemental poverty measure (also reported annually by the U.S. Census Bureau), and other measures to capture poverty and income trends and data. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources on poverty measures.
Below are selections from the SSRC Library on poverty measures. Click the titles to learn more about the research and resources.
This report describes how the government and others measure and shape the public conversation about what it takes to be economically secure in the U.S. Metrics covered include: the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, as well as a range of family budgets, asset scorecards and multi-dimensional indices using an age, race or gender lens. (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)
After many years of following similar trends, U.S. poverty rates measured by household spending in data from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) fell between 2000 and 2008, while poverty measured by income rose. Comparisons of spending and income poverty in the CE with income poverty in other surveys, spending data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and a time series of employment levels, find the CE to be the outlier. The findings do not bear directly on the primary use of CE data in providing category weights for calculation of the Consumer Price Index, but do require explanation not available in CE public-use files. (author abstract)
This is the fifth report describing research on the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) released by the U.S. Census Bureau, with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This report presents updated estimates of the prevalence of poverty in the United States, overall and for selected demographic groups, using the official measure and the SPM. Section one presents differences between the official poverty measure and the SPM. Comparing the two measures sheds light on the effects of noncash benefits, taxes, and other nondiscretionary expenses on measured economic wellbeing. The composition of the poverty populations using the two measures is examined across subgroups to better understand the incidence and receipt of benefits and taxes that are missed in the official statistics, and the distribution of income-to-poverty threshold ratios are also estimated and compared for the two measures. The second section of the report examines the SPM itself. Effects of benefits and expenses on SPM rates are explicitly examined, and SPM estimates for 2014 are compared with the 2013 figures to assess changes in SPM rates from the previous year. (abbreviated author introduction)
In this paper we estimate a multi-dimensional poverty index (US-MPI) in the United States. Measuring poverty using multiple dimensions of deprivation provides a more complete picture of poverty. The US-MPI measures simultaneous deprivations experienced in multiple dimensions of well-being: health, education, income and housing. We use data on eight different indicators from the American Community Survey, and estimate the US-MPI across different regions, age, gender and race. Our estimates indicate that in 2011, one in five adult American's were multidimensional poor. Lack of health insurance and severe housing burden were two significant indicators of deprivation. (author abstract)
In 2011, 7 million U.S. grandparent heads of households had a grandchild living with them. Approximately 3 million had primary responsibility for meeting their grandchildren's basic needs. In New England alone, 237,000 grandparents had grandchildren living with them, and 77,000 were the primary caregivers. But grandparents over 65 often face financial challenges supporting an additional dependent on a retirement income without financial help from the child's parents. Financial hardships can have an impact on the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of both grandparent and grandchildren. (abbreviated author abstract)
Federal Laws and Regulations serve as the building blocks of policy and practice on General Research on Income and Poverty. The impact of these laws and regulations are a focus of research. Click the first link below to view legislative resources related to income and poverty. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.