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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 will explore 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 which is 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 on annually. Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers are using the official poverty measure, supplemental poverty measure (also reported on annually by the U.S. Census), 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 analysis investigates how much variation exists in the frequency of poverty spell occurrences across demographic groups, and uses clustering techniques to categorize poverty experiences based on both the total time spent in poverty as well as the number of poverty spells experienced. Using these clustering techniques, the author highlights individuals in clusters characterized by short and isolated periods of poverty (crisis), long-term poverty spells (chronic), or frequent movement in and out of poverty over the course of a SIPP Panel (churning). The author finds variation in the frequency of poverty spell occurrences across demographic groups, and finds that individuals categorized using crisis, chronic, and churning classifications vary across a number of demographic characteristics, as well as in the events associated with their transitions both into and out of poverty. The author also finds variation in the magnitude of transition events across the crisis, chronic, and churning populations as measured by the arc percent change in individuals income-to-poverty ratio when entering or exiting a poverty spell. (abbreviated author abstract)
This is the fourth 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. The distribution of income-to-poverty threshold ratios and poverty rates by state are 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 2013 are compared with the 2012 figures to assess changes in SPM rates from the previous year. (abbreviated author abstract)
This paper examines various methods of accounting for work related expenses (including child care expenses) in a new measure of poverty. We include a discussion of the treatment of these expenses in defining poverty. We begin with the imputation method as proposed by the Committee on National Statistics' panel on poverty. In the report released in May of 1995, they recommend a measure of family resources that contains income that is available to buy goods and services minus expenses that cannot be used to buy goods and services. This measure subtracts work related expenditures from income before determining poverty status, along with medical out of pocket expenditures, taxes paid and so on. We begin with this measure and examine various alternatives using the Current Population Survey. We then use data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to update the imputations. We reestimate the imputed expenses using the CPS. We then move on to examine the effect of using reported data in the SIPP, and compare resulting distributions of work-related expenses. In all cases we recompute poverty estimates to examine the effect on poverty rates of using these various methods. (abbreviated author introduction)
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.