Effects Of The Supplemental Poverty Measure

May 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

Are you or is someone you know poor or low income but unable to qualify for assistance ? The new Supplemental Poverty Measure may eventually change that. It won’t debut as the Official measure and you won’t see it’s results till Fall but a prototype of the measure gives us a glimpse of how it may redefine poverty. Analysis of the prototype results, delivered to economists earlier this year, and online in a  Census working paper, reveals higher poverty rates, in general, and shifts the demographics of need in ways you might find surprising.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure  is significantly more sophisticated then the current official measurement and can calculate a more wholistic financial picture by accounting for an individual’s various incomes (cash and non cash), work related expenses, and annual household costs. It can discriminate between persons owning homes with a mortgage and without and thus “rent free,”  for instance. Through this rigorous analysis more working poor, elderly, and married couples appear to be in poverty then previously supposed.

In general more people, approximately 1%, fall to the poverty line using the precisions of the new measure. Remarkably, numbers of elderly poor will double.  Increased poverty rates will be seen in urban areas, suburbs, and the regions of the Northeast, South and West.  More populations of “foreign born” and “Hispanics” will also be counted as poor, according to the Census paper.

People whose poverty is greatly eased because of significant government assistance or who are sharing their housing with others that defray costs would likely change in their relation to the poverty line.  Less children will be counted in poverty. Poverty in the Midwest region and in rural areas throughout the country will go down.

These are some of the adjustments the prototype Supplemental Poverty Measure is having on our understanding of who grapples with poverty but goes unassisted.  It’s not certain the tool that debuts in fall will function the same way, it’s still conjecture, but, hold on America, we’re about to see that inadequate official poverty meaures have neglected our elderly neighbors, the parents of some of our children’s friends, and the friendly waitress serving our super size drinks.

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