Poverty - Experimental Measures

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About Experimental Measures

Since the development of the current official poverty measure in the 1960's by Mollie Orshansky there have been a series of studies and reviews of the conceptual and technical elements that make up the measure. These studies produced a large number of technical working papers and reports, including a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) 1995 report Measuring Poverty, that address the important measurement issues that are still being discussed by researchers and policy makers today.

For a more detailed history of the official poverty measure see The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds and Their subsequent History as the Official U.S. Poverty Measure by Gordon M. Fisher.

For earlier technical papers and reviews, see the Poverty Studies Task Force 1976 Report, as well as technical papers from the 1980s and the 1985 Williamsburg Conference [PDF - 44M]

NAS-Based Poverty Measures

For many years, the Census Bureau has estimated a number of experimental poverty measures based on recommendations of the 1995 NAS report, Measuring Poverty (NAS-based measures).

For more information regarding the NAS-Based Experimental Poverty Measures see NAS-Based Poverty Measures Overview

Supplemental Poverty Measure

An Interagency Technical Working Group on Developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure was formed in 2009 and charged with developing a set of initial starting points to permit the U.S. Census Bureau, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to produce a Supplemental Poverty Measure. The Supplemental Poverty Measure will not replace the official poverty measure and will not be used to determine eligibility for government programs. Instead, the Supplemental Poverty Measure is designed as an experimental poverty measure that defines income thresholds and resources in a manner different from the official poverty measure.

For more information regarding the Supplemental Poverty Measure see Observations from the Interagency Technical Working Group on Developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure [PDF - 33k]

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Poverty - Experimental Measures |  Last Revised: January 13, 2011