(A revised version of a paper presented October 28, 1993, at the Fifteenth Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in Washington, D.C. A 7-page summary of this paper is available on the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines Web site at http://aspe.os.dhhs.gov/poverty/papers/htrssmiv.htm.)
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author, and do not represent the position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
October 1993 -- revised August 1997 (202)690-6143 [htorsp4]
The "Prehistory" of American Poverty Lines and Family Budget Studies (ca. 1870-ca. 1895)...........................2
The Period of Poverty Lines Derived from the Study of Standard Budgets (ca. 1899-ca. 1946).........................10
The Post-World-War-II Period...................................38
Some Preliminary Conclusions...................................61
This paper is an overview of an effort to answer the following question: "When analysts before Mollie Orshansky mentioned dollar figures in connection with the terms 'poverty,' 'minimum subsistence,' or 'low income,' what dollar figures did they mention?"
After quasi-official use by the Office of Economic Opportunity beginning in 1965, Mollie Orshansky's poverty thresholds were adopted as the federal government's official statistical definition of poverty in 1969. Perhaps because of the prominence and official status of Orshansky's thresholds, many people think that they were the first American poverty lines. However, there were a number of unofficial poverty lines(1) in the U.S. before 1965, with the earliest explicit poverty line for the whole country (developed by Robert Hunter) dating back to 1904. What one might call the prehistory of poverty lines and family budget studies in the U.S. can be traced back to about 1870.
The history of poverty lines in the U.S. before 1965 is rather obscure.(2) To study this history, one must cross the boundaries of different professions and academic disciplines. Sources of relevant material include the literature of social work (during the first two decades of the twentieth century, when the profession included many activist reformers), labor union literature, reports of state bureaus of labor statistics, various federal government publications, and books on such hybrid subjects as "the economics of consumption."
Is the "ancient history" of 1904-1965 American poverty lines relevant to poverty definition and measurement today? I believe that it is because I look at the drawing of poverty lines as a social process--not merely a technical economic exercise. The outcome of this social process can be strongly affected by conscious or unconscious assumptions that are made about poverty and the poor; in particular, the strong stigma that many Americans attach to poor people can become a much more important consideration in this social process than the second decimal digit of a particular equivalence scale. Reading hundreds of pages of poverty studies and related articles has impressed on me forcefully the insight that Americans of different social persuasions have been fighting metaphorical trench warfare back and forth over essentially the same sociopolitical terrain for at least a century. Although individual features of this terrain may have altered sharply, its overall shape has changed surprisingly little over this period. In the context of this sociopolitical terrain, examining the development of a number of poverty lines can yield greater insights than examining only the most recent one.
To study the history of American poverty lines, one must be familiar with the concept of the "standard budget." A standard budget is a list of goods and services that a family of a specified size and composition--and sometimes of a specified social class or occupational group--would need to live at a designated level of well-being, together with the estimated monthly or annual costs of those goods and services.(3) (The phrase "market basket" is often used nowadays to refer to this concept, but that phrase is sometimes used so loosely that it is preferable to use the more precise technical term "standard budget.") This paper focuses mainly on poverty or minimum subsistence budgets (as well as non-budget poverty lines), but also mentions some relevant developments involving higher-than- subsistence budgets. The paper deals with budgets for families, and not budgets for single working women.(4) Furthermore, the paper generally focuses on budgets for urban families, and not budgets for farm families.(5) (Both decisions were made primarily to set some limit on the quantity of material to be covered.)
American developments in these areas during the latter part of the nineteenth century may be considered a period of "prehistory." On the one hand, these late nineteenth century developments were the context out of which early twentieth century poverty lines and budget studies evolved. On the other hand, a number of specific studies during this period did not become part of an ongoing body of tradition which was remembered and referred to by twentieth-century writers.
American developments during this period of "prehistory" grew, in turn, out of nineteenth-century European studies of working-class families' expenditures. Acting in part out of concern over the working-class unrest that fed the Revolutions of 1848, European statisticians began about 1850 to do studies of the incomes and expenditures of families, especially working- class families. They classified the expenditures by categories, and traced patterns of variation in expenditure shares by category as a function of total income. Some studies examined the expenditures of different social or occupational groups, or traced changes in family living standards over time.(6)
One of the major European figures in this field was Ernst Engel (1821-1896) [not to be confused with Karl Marx's colleague Friedrich Engels], who was successively the director of the Statistical Bureau of Saxony and the director of the Prussian Statistical Bureau.(7) On the basis of his studies, he formulated the empirical relationship which became known as Engel's Law, which he stated (in two articles) as follows: "The poorer is a family, the greater is the proportion of the total outgo which must be used for food....The proportion of the outgo used for food, other things being equal, is the best measure of the material standard of living of a population."(8) Engel's studies and his Law were quite influential on late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American family budget studies. Much later in the twentieth century, both Mollie Orshansky of the U.S. and Jennie Podoluk of Canada made use of aspects of Engel's Law in deriving their poverty/low-income measures.(9)
Two other European studies which were quite influential on early twentieth-century U.S. work on poverty, family budgets, and related social issues were the English poverty studies of Charles Booth(10) and B. Seebohm Rowntree(11). Because of their influence, the poverty line aspects of these studies are briefly described here.
Charles Booth originated both the concept and the term "the line of poverty" in his extensive studies of poverty and industrial and religious conditions in London, published in several editions between 1889 and 1903 in what ultimately became a 17-volume series, Life and Labour of the People in London.(12) His concept of poverty was more complicated than it first appeared to be(13); however, his contemporaries in both Britain and the United States generally understood it as simple income levels which demarcated his "poor" and "very poor" groups. "By the word 'poor' I mean...those who have a sufficiently regular though bare income, such as 18s [shillings] to 21s per week for a moderate family, and by 'very poor' those who from any cause fall much below this standard. The 'poor' are those whose means...are barely sufficient for decent independent life; the 'very poor' those whose means are insufficient for this according to the usual standard of life in this country."(14) (Note that Booth did not present his poverty line figures as having been developed from a standard budget.) The weekly income figures of 18 and 21 shillings were equivalent to annual incomes of 46 pounds 16 shillings and 54 pounds 12 shillings, or $228 and $266 in U.S. currency.(15)
B. Seebohm Rowntree, a Quaker industrialist with a strong concern for social justice, made the poverty line concept more specific in his study of poverty in the town of York, published in 1901 as Poverty[:] A Study of Town Life. Like Booth, Rowntree had two poverty categories, but they were not comparable to Booth's "poor" and "very poor."(16) Families whose incomes were actually below his poverty line were classed as being in "primary poverty." Families living in "obvious want and squalor" but with incomes above his poverty line--i.e., "whose total earnings would be sufficient for the maintenance of merely physical efficiency were it not that some portion of [their earnings are] absorbed by other expenditure, either useful or wasteful"--were classed as being in "secondary poverty." Rowntree developed his poverty line as a standard budget with three components--food, rent, and "Household Sundries (such as clothing, light, fuel, etc.)."(17) To develop the food component, he used nutritional requirements set by an American nutrition scientist, Wilbur Atwater (see pp. 7-8 below). (This use of an American's work in a British study represents a contrast to the slightly later pattern of strong influence exercised by British studies on American work on poverty and family budgets.) To meet those nutritional requirements while keeping costs low, Rowntree eliminated all fresh meat from his food plan, leaving a diet which was entirely vegetarian except for boiled bacon three times a week.(18) The other components of his poverty budget were developed with similar stringency; in an often-quoted passage, he noted that his poverty standard excluded railway and omnibus fares, newspapers, postage for letters, church contributions, savings, trade union fees, toys and sweets for children, and medical care.(19) He calculated separate poverty line figures for different family sizes--for instance, an average weekly income of 18 shillings 10 pence for a family of four, and 21 shillings 8 pence for a family of five.(20) These weekly figures were equivalent to annual incomes of 48 pounds 19 shillings 4 pence or $238 for a family of four, and 56 pounds 6 shillings 8 pence or $274 for a family of five.
The last third of the nineteenth century was a period of major turbulence and change in the United States. A society of small towns and farms was being replaced by an urbanizing society as millions of Americans flocked from rural areas to large, overcrowded cities whose public and private facilities were unable to keep pace with the influx of new residents. (A social scientist in 1893 described "congestion in cities and desertion of farming lands" as "[s]ymptoms of pathological conditions.") Millions of immigrants were streaming into the country, especially into the large cities of the Northeast and the Midwest. Family-owned small businesses were being replaced by large corporations running railroads and factories. In the setting of urbanization and industrialization, thousands of factory workers (both "native" and immigrant) were working for "starvation wages," while corporation owners and other industrialists were swelling the ranks of the new group known as "millionaires." Some factory workers tried to organize unions and labor federations and to stage strikes in hopes of bettering their economic condition, but they were often met by beatings, firings, and anti-union espionage, and in some cases suppression by federal troops. The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 culminated in major riots stretching halfway across the nation. In addition, thousands of workers, whether poorly paid or well-paid, were thrown out of work by three major multiyear depressions during this period. As one might expect, many factory workers and their families lived in wretched conditions in the slums of large cities.(21)
In this period of turmoil, some people hoped that the accumulation of social statistics, the investigation of social problems, and the findings of the new social sciences would lead to the solution of the problems of labor, poverty, and the slums. State and federal bureaus of labor statistics were established in the hope that the statistics they gathered would help to improve the conditions of labor. Social workers began to do studies of specific social problems in the cities and neighborhoods in which they worked.(22) It was in this context that American studies of the incomes and expenditures of families--primarily working-class families--began about 1870. These studies generally followed the pattern of the European studies that had begun several decades earlier. Some of the earlier U.S. studies were made to compare levels of living among American and European workingmen, often in the context of foreign trade and protective tariffs. Studies related to social reform issues became more frequent towards the end of the nineteenth century. Other studies dealt with the impact on family living patterns of periods of rising prices.(23)
(For a brief, preliminary discussion of a poverty line figure in the 1870-1871 report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, see footnote 58 below.)
A prominent figure in the area of late nineteenth-century social statistics was Carroll D. Wright, chief of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor (MBSL) from 1873 to 1888, and head of the U.S. Bureau of Labor (later the Bureau of Labor Statistics) from 1885 [sic] to 1905.(24) Unlike his predecessors at the MBSL and their staff, who were advocates of labor and of the eight-hour workday, Wright held that a social statistician should be "impartial" and should present only the "facts" (statistics) without interpreting them or theorizing about them.(25) In March 1875, Wright's MBSL published one of the earliest American family expenditure studies, covering 397 working-class families in Massachusetts.(26) For each of the families, the report showed family expenditures by category and family income, making it possible to calculate the family's annual surplus or deficit and also the proportion of total expenditures going to particular categories. (Wright used the latter information to verify Engel's Law on the variation of the food expenditure share with income, as well as to test similar laws on clothing, rent, and "sundries" expenditures which he incorrectly attributed to Engel.(27)) Wright noted in the report that (on the average) families with annual incomes below $600 went into debt; at one point, he described such families as being "in debt and poverty."(28) At first glance, one might think that Wright was using what was later known as the "break-even point" (the income level below which family expenditures were on average greater than family income) as a proto-poverty line. However, one must first remember that during the nineteenth century, the word "poverty" was generally used to mean not income insufficiency but "pauperism"--i.e., being in receipt of public relief or private charitable assistance (see p. 10 below). In addition, Wright himself noted that "some families mentioned as saving money are living in inferior tenements, upon cheap food, and are poorly clad. How, then, is a figure denoting a money- saving a sure index that the father or family are deriving the first fruits of labor, and are progressing in life?" After thus casting doubt on the significance of the break-even point as an index or indicator, he immediately continued, "The only figure, of this nature, which it is of value for statisticians or social economists to discover is the one which, with due regard to locality, customs of the people, and the financial state of the community, will plainly indicate the minimum cost of living of families of different sizes."(29) Almost a decade later, in the 1884 Report of the MBSL, he wrote, "in the next report of the Bureau we hope to formulate a law as to quantities of commodities required weekly, monthly, and yearly in workingmen's families, and to deduce the cost of living averages for adults and children."(30) However, he never followed up on this half-promise, either at the MBSL or when he was the head of the U.S. Bureau of Labor.(31)
The 1875 MBSL family expenditure study--presumably including the statement of Engel's Law on food expenditures and income-- came to the attention of Joseph Cook, a Congregationalist minister and well-known proponent of the social gospel who gave a long series of "Boston Monday Lectures" (including preludes on current events) in the late 1870's; he characterized his standpoint on the issues discussed in this paragraph by the comment, "My theme is...labor-reform as an antidote to socialism."(32) In several lectures and lecture preludes delivered in 1877 and 1878 (not long after the Great Railroad Strike of 1877), Cook made a distinction between "starvation wages" and "natural wages" (or "just wages" or "comfortable wages"), and advanced the proposition that "any thing less than twice the cost of the uncooked food for a family containing several small children is starvation wages to the unassisted father of that family...." (It is important to note that he was not proposing any kind of theoretical reduced-cost diet; he was talking about the cost of the (uncooked) food actually purchased by working- class families.) He indicated that he was thinking of a five- person family (two parents and three children) in which neither the wife nor the children worked for wages.(33) Citing data from the MBSL study that the average annual expenditure for food for a workingman's family was $422.16, he said that such a family ought to have a total annual income of "somewhere about eight hundred and fifty dollars...otherwise it will inevitably graduate members unfit to become part of our popular sovereignty."(34) (In an earlier lecture, he indicated that he and two friends had prepared some sort of standard budget--"we added up the necessary expenses of a family of five"--and concluded that such a family would need $520 to $624 a year to live "according to the standard of the workingmen of America."(35)) In another lecture, he made a distinction between "family wages and bachelor wages," noting that a family man might be willing to work for $1.50 a day, while a bachelor might be willing to work for $0.80 a day(36)--indicating an awareness of the concept we know today as "equivalence scales." If one assumes that Cook's $850 natural wage/starvation wage line was applicable to the year 1874 (since it was derived from a food expenditure figure from the 1875 MBSL report, and the figures in that report seem to have been for income year 1874(37)), it would be equal to roughly $2,300 in 1963 dollars(38)--about 62 percent of Mollie Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Since Cook's $520 and $624 figures were described in an October 1877 lecture and were not tied to the MBSL 1875 report, let us assume that they applied to income year 1877. In that case, they would be equal to roughly $1,500 and roughly $1,800 in 1963 dollars--about 41 percent and 49 percent, respectively, of Orshansky's 1963 poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. To my knowledge, no one ever followed up on Cook's intriguing ideas; I have never found any reference to him in the extensive poverty line and family budget literature that I have read. I only found out about him through a reference in a book on the social gospel in American Protestantism (the Hopkins book cited in footnote 21).
In the mid-1880's, Wilbur Atwater, an early American nutrition scientist, began a series of studies on human nutritional requirements. He was ultimately able to gain federal funding (and an Agriculture Department job) for his nutrition studies by claiming a relationship between them and one of the most burning social questions of the day--the sometimes violent struggle between workers and business over the level of wages paid to workers and whether those wages were adequate. The link was the fact that at that time, American workers were spending roughly one half of their income for food. Following one of his prominent supporters, Atwater argued publicly that American workers were extravagant in their food-buying habits. If workers would only learn to buy their food efficiently and scientifically, they would be able to purchase a diet meeting his nutritional requirements at a cost noticeably less than their current wasteful food expenditures. The funds thus released would enable workers to raise their standard of living without requiring businesses to make any increase in the wages paid to the workers. This argument appealed to businessmen who were often using outright violence against employees striking for higher wages, and gave "scientific" backing to a cultural attitude that was already widely prevalent among middle-class and upper-class people--that the poor were poor because they made wasteful, extravagant expenditures, and that if they would only manage their money efficiently, they would be able to get along quite tolerably on their existing incomes. Because Atwater's nutritional requirements were limited to calories and grams of protein, he held that fresh fruits and vegetables were among the wasteful and extravagant food purchases of working-class families; only after the discovery of vitamins (several years after Atwater's death) did the importance of fruits and vegetables to a balanced diet come to be recognized. As a later biochemist put it, "From the point of view of Atwater's soul, it was a very lucky thing he never had to come face to face with men or animals whose nourishment was set up according to his directives." After vitamins were discovered, they were incorporated into the corpus of nutritional requirements, but home economists continued in Atwater's tradition of trying to develop diets more "efficient" than the normal purchasing patterns of working-class families.(39)
Atwater's work, in other words, was remembered and extended during the twentieth century, unlike the majority of the poverty- line/budget-related studies done during the late nineteenth- century period of "prehistory." His work significantly affected a number of minimum-cost food budgets developed during the earlier part of the twentieth century, and it was the tradition(40) of his work that contributed to the development of the Agriculture Department's four food plans, the two cheapest of which played significant roles in the development of poverty lines in the 1930's, in 1944, and in the 1960's (see pp. 31-32, 33, 36-38, 48, 49-50, 53-54, and 57-59 below). In light of this, it was ironic that early twentieth-century single-city studies began to show--and later twentieth-century nationwide studies clearly demonstrated--that the assumption that lower-income families are inefficient and wasteful food shoppers is incorrect. Instead, it was repeatedly shown that lower-income families get more nutrients per dollar (or per pound sterling) than higher- income families do.(41)
The 1890-1891 report of the Iowa Bureau of Labor Statistics presented a standard budget with 33 entries showing "the minimum cost as indicated by reports received and personal inquiry" of "the necessary living expenses of laboring men with families," applicable to "the average family (man, wife and three children)." The dollar total of the annual budget was $549.84. (Whether the expense figures were applicable to 1890 or 1891, this total would be equal to roughly $1,900 in 1963 dollars-- about 52 percent of Mollie Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five.) J[ames] R. Sovereign, the Iowa Commissioner of Labor Statistics, commented that "$549.84 do [sic] not equal the cost of maintaining an average family in respectability according to the standard of American society," and noted that the budget contained no carpets, no window curtains, "[n]o provisions for social amusements, no street car fares, no feasts for holidays, no contributions for Sunday schools and churches, no medicine or medical assistance during illness, no mineral springs or other places of resort to recuperate the minds and bodies of over- worked laborers, and no mementoes of love with which to express the affections of the members of the family circle towards each other." Near the end of the section, he added that "The table of classified wages on page 200 shows that more than 88 per cent of [Iowa's] mechanics and laborers earn less than $549.84 per year."(42) It is striking to encounter a detailed (33-item) standard budget some fifteen years before standard budgets came into common use among people concerned with the problem of poverty. However, as in the case of Joseph Cook, I have never found any reference to this standard budget or to James R. Sovereign in the poverty line and family budget literature that I have read.
In 1895, a report(43) on the incomes and expenses of garment workers in New York City and Chicago was published by Isabel Eaton(44), who was a Dutton Fellow of the College Settlements Association (a federation of settlement houses). The purpose of the report was to discover "the adequacy or inadequacy of the average income to defray the average expense of living."(45) Her data was collected during the Panic or depression of 1893, which lasted into 1894.(46) She did not construct a complete minimum subsistence budget to assess income inadequacy, but did address the issue of inadequacy in several other ways:
As with Cook and the Iowa study, I found no reference to Eaton's report in the poverty line and family budget literature that I have read (except for the brief comments mentioned in footnote 45).
During a period that lasted from roughly 1899 to roughly 1946, poverty or minimum subsistence lines in the United States were generally derived from the study of standard budgets. The beginning of this period was approximately marked by a paradigm shift in the generally accepted meaning of the word "poverty." It was also approximately marked by the beginning of an ongoing tradition in poverty studies--that is, work that had been done beginning about 1900 continued to be remembered and cited twenty and thirty years later. This period will be referred to below as "Period I."
During the nineteenth century, the word "poverty" had commonly(47) been used to designate what was more precisely known as "pauperism"(48)--the state of receiving or being "dependent" on public relief or private charitable assistance. About 1900, however, some social workers and others began to use the word "poverty" with a new meaning--insufficient income, regardless of the source of that income. This new concept of poverty became widely accepted among social workers, economists, and sociologists during the first two decades of the twentieth century.(49) The idea of a poverty line (as we understand it) could only make sense in the context of this new concept of poverty.
About the same time, and as part of the same paradigm shift, a number of people began to accept the view that poverty was mainly due to economic and other institutional and social factors, rather than to "drunkenness...moral depravity....laziness...shiftlessness."(50)
A number of standard budgets for individual cities were developed during Period I. Some of these individual-city standard budgets may validly be considered poverty (or minimum subsistence) lines by themselves. (Other standard budgets represent higher-than-subsistence standards, as discussed below.) In addition, from about 1909 on, a number of analysts did reviews of individual-city budgets and estimated a more broadly based standard of living (or several such standards) based on their review, along the general line of "Based on budget A for city 1, budget B for city 2, and budget C for city 3, a good estimate of the minimum subsistence level for a family of five for year 19xx would be an annual income of Y dollars." To distinguish them from individual-city poverty-level budgets, these more broadly based standards of living will be referred to as "derivative" poverty (or minimum subsistence) lines.
Some of the standard budgets of this period represent standards of living higher than poverty or minimum subsistence. Unfortunately this point is frequently missed in the relatively small number of post-1960 discussions of Period I standard budgets; these discussions show a tendency to assume that every standard budget is a poverty or minimum income budget.(51) This tendency is not surprising, given the lack of standardization of terms used to describe various standard budgets during the first fifteen years or so of Period I. Terms applied to different budgets included "a fair living wage," "a fairly proper standard of living," "a minimum standard," "safe normal living cost," and "lowest 'bare existence.'" However, analysts gradually developed classification schemes for these budgets (in the reviews of individual-city budgets mentioned in the previous paragraph), and in 1923 Dorothy Douglas published (in a book by her husband Paul and two colleagues) a classification scheme(52) which was adopted (in whole or in part) by a number of other analysts over the next decade and a half. She described "four working-class levels or standards of living": 1) the "poverty level" (described in the 1921 article cited in footnote 52 as "the pauper, or...poverty level"); 2) the "minimum of subsistence level"; 3) the "subsistence-plus ('minimum health and decency') level"; and 4) the "comfort level." Her "pauper, or...poverty" level was actually not what we today think of as poverty but was rather a relief or public assistance budget level; this was made clearer in the 1921 article. Her "minimum of subsistence" level corresponded to what we think of as poverty. She listed almost 30 individual-city standard budgets done over the previous two decades and classified them under these four categories.
A classification very similar to the three highest categories in the Douglas classification was presented by Oscar Ornati in a 1966 book(53) which included an analysis of the costs of about 60 standard budgets prepared during the 1905-1960 period. (He did not cite the Douglas classification.) He classified these budgets as being at "minimum subsistence," "minimum adequacy," and "minimum comfort" levels.
Ornati provided dollar figures for each budget (recalculating the figures for four-person families when the original budget was for a five-person family); for all years during the 1905-1960 period for which no budget was developed in a given category, he provided dollar figures by interpolation. Ornati's classification and his three series of year-by-year dollar figures will be used as a framework in which to view the budgets and poverty lines discussed in this paper, since the budgets discussed here make much more sense when viewed in Ornati's framework than they would if viewed as an undifferentiated mass of "poverty" or "minimum income" budgets. Ornati's three sets of budget figures are also significant because they are a major portion of the evidence for what is known as the income elasticity of the poverty line--the fact that both expert-devised poverty/subsistence budgets and popular beliefs about the amount needed to "get along" rise in real terms as the real income of the general population rises.(54)
Much of the work on poverty lines and standard budgets during the first two decades of the twentieth century was done by social workers--a group which during those two decades contained significant numbers of activist social reformers. The social work movement was made up of two groups--charity organization workers and settlement house workers. Settlement house workers (or residents) were generally young, college-educated people who came to live in group houses in slum neighborhoods with the goals of reducing the gulfs between educated and working classes, and helping their neighbors (largely immigrant working poor people) to improve conditions in their neighborhoods. They generally saw poverty as having mainly social rather than individual causes, and thus favored social reforms. Allen Davis has compared them to Peace Corps volunteers and 1960's civil rights workers. Charity organization workers (that is, workers for what were known as charity organization societies) started out quite differently in the 1870's. They thought that the causes of poverty lay entirely within the individual. Besides coordinating and reducing duplication between the work of existing charity groups, they went to poor applicants for charity as "friendly visitors," investigating their cases but seeking mainly to regenerate them as individuals and get them to practice self- reliance rather than seeking the demoralization of material relief. But the detailed investigation of numerous individual cases brought charity organization workers face to face with the actual conditions experienced by the poor; shortly after 1900, a number of charity organization workers began to realize that much of the poverty they were investigating was due not to individual character defects but to external social causes.(55)
Clarke A. Chambers has pointed out that during the 1890-1930 period, social work was a profession in which women were prominent, played roles of equal power with men at every level, and were able to have independent professional careers. This was in strong contrast to the traditional "professions" (medicine, law, and the ministry), which remained the almost exclusive preserve of men, and also in contrast to the "semiprofessions" of nursing, library science, and education, in which there were large numbers of women but the top positions of the hierarchies were filled almost entirely by men.(56) Intriguingly, a study of charity organization societies [the conservative wing of the social work movement, as indicated above] in several cities during the late nineteenth century found that a shift in the control of officer positions from men to women was associated with a shift towards the idea that poverty was primarily due to social rather than individual causes (with corresponding changes in the societies' program activities).(57)
The first(58) American I have found who used the word "poor" together with a specific dollar income figure was W.E.B. DuBois, who was to become one of the most prominent Afro-American scholars and leaders of the twentieth century. In a study of the condition of Negroes in Philadelphia in 1896-1897, DuBois presented a table in which families with weekly incomes of $5 or less were characterized as either "very poor" or "poor." Assuming a 52-week year, this would be equivalent to an annual poverty line of $260; the figures in the table were described as being applicable to a standard family of five persons. ("Very poor" families were described as those with annual incomes of $150 or less.) It is not surprising that this poverty line was essentially equal to Booth's poverty line converted to dollars, and that the "very poor" and "poor" categories were the same as Booth's two lowest categories; the table in question appeared on the same page as a chart comparing the income distributions of the London families studied by Booth and the Philadelphia Negro families in DuBois' study. DuBois did not present the implicit $260 poverty line as being applicable to the nation as a whole; indeed, he implied that he might set a poverty line for Philadelphia whites considerably higher than his poverty line for Philadelphia Negroes.(59) In terms of the association between early poverty studies and the social work movement, it is of interest that a later scholar described DuBois' study as "a product of the New Social Science and Settlement House movements," and that the book included an 83-page "Special Report on Negro Domestic Service In the Seventh Ward[,] Philadelphia" by Isabel Eaton, a Fellow of the College Settlements Association (a federation of settlement houses).(60) (At either 1896 or 1897 prices, DuBois' $260 figure would be equal to roughly $950 in 1963 dollars--about 26 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Probably in large part because it was a "direct translation" of a British poverty line, DuBois' poverty line was markedly lower than every other contemporary American poverty line that I have seen.)
As the concept of poverty as insufficiency of income began to take hold, the opening years of the twentieth century were marked by a number of informal estimates of the cost of an acceptable or minimally acceptable American standard of living:
Although these figures probably were not all intended to represent exactly the same standard of living, it is interesting that all of them except Professor Small's figure were in the same general range. Father Ryan's "irreducible minimum" figures of $550 to $600 (for a family of six, based on 1891 expenditure data) would be equal to roughly $1,900 to $2,000 in 1963 dollars--about 46 to 48 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $4,135 for a family of six. Professor Small's 1901 minimum-comfortable-living figure of $1,000 would be equal to roughly $3,700 in 1963 dollars-- essentially equal to Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. (This assumes, in the absence of other data, that Small's figure applied to a family of five--the most commonly used average family size figure during this period.)
In 1904, Robert Hunter--a settlement house worker who was to join Eugene Debs' Socialist Party in 1905(66)--published a book, Poverty, in which he defined poverty (using the "new" concept of income insufficiency), described what was and was not known about poverty in the United States, and proposed legislative remedies for it. He wrote in part to refute "the prevalent notion" that "the provisions of charity are in the present day so generous and varied that no one need suffer," and that "'comparatively speaking,' as an economist said...recently, 'we have no poverty.'"(67) He set poverty lines for the average family of five persons of $460 per year for the industrial states of the North and $300 for the South. (The $460 figure would be equal to roughly $1,600 in 1963 dollars--about 43 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five.) Hunter arrived at these amounts by considering several recent "opinions" (including three of the estimates cited immediately above) "concerning the necessary income for a family of average size." Since these "opinions of well-informed persons as to a fair wage" were "above the amount necessary to supply only the strictest necessities for useful, efficient living," Hunter "more or less arbitrarily" set his poverty lines at a lower level.(68)
In 1906, Father John Ryan--the author of the April 1902 article cited above--published a book in which he presented arguments for a "Living Wage," "family Living Wage," or "decent livelihood for the adult male laborer," meaning "a wage capable of maintaining himself, his wife, and those of his children who are too young to be self-supporting, in a condition of reasonable comfort."(69) Ryan said that a living wage should include not only food, clothing, and shelter but also "a moderate amount of amusement and recreation; education in the primary branches of instruction for the children; some periodical and other literature; membership in certain organizations, such as benefit societies and Labor Unions;" charitable and church contributions; and enough margin to enable the laborer "to provide against accidents, sickness and old age."(70) Conceptually, his standard for a living wage was above Hunter's (and Rowntree's) poverty standard of "necessaries for maintaining physical efficiency." Ryan developed a dollar figure for a living wage using a slightly revised version of the standard budget he had used in his April 1902 article. "[I]n order to guard against even the appearance of generosity," the budget did not include entries for "Life Insurance" and "Sickness and Death," on the assumption that the laborer could squeeze out savings for these purposes during portions of the family life cycle when there were less than the maximum number of dependent children.(71) From his budget, Ryan arrived at a figure of $600 a year for a family of six or seven persons; he presented this figure cautiously, as being "probably a Living Wage in...cities of the Southern States...possibly a Living Wage in the moderately sized cities of the West, North and East; and...certainly not a Living Wage" for "some of the largest cities of the last-named regions...."(72) (As noted above, $600 based on 1891 expenditure data would be equal to roughly $2,000 in 1963 dollars--about 48 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $4,135 for a family of six.)
In 1906, people (besides Ryan) interested in the question of minimum adequate standards of living began to advance from the stage of making informal estimates to the stage of developing standard budgets:
In 1907, people began publishing book-length studies assessing income adequacy for specific groups. Interestingly, the first three studies of this type did not use standard budgets; instead, the Chapin and Byington studies (and to a lesser extent the More study) assessed income adequacy on the basis of families' actual consumption patterns rather than hypothetical budgets that families "ought" to be able to live up to. Later studies examined the consumption patterns of specific groups of families and then constructed standard budgets in the light of those consumption patterns. It is interesting also that contemporaries did not make a clear differentiation between the More, Chapin, and Byington studies which did not use standard budgets and the later studies which did. Contemporaries may have thought that having some kind of dollar figure (or several such figures) indicating income adequacy was more important than the process through which one arrived at that figure.
In 1907, Louise Bolard More published a study of the expenditures of 200 New York City families, based on work done between November 1903 and September 1905. The object of the investigation was not to set a minimum income level but to determine and describe "[t]he standard of living among different races [ethnic groups] and occupations in the neighborhood of Greenwich House." More was given a fellowship for two years to live at Greenwich House (a settlement house) while she completed the study, and was assisted during the second year by Elizabeth Lennox. Most of the families studied were working-class families, but a few were families of "petty shopkeepers." Four fifths of the families had annual incomes between $500 and $1500, with others going as low as $250 and as high as $2556; the study was thus clearly not confined to either very poor or "dependent" families.(78) At one point More seemed to designate families with incomes below $600 (a group with an average family size of 4.8 persons) as "poor," but she did not explain why she chose that particular figure.(79) At the end of the book, More did estimate a "fair living wage" for an average family of five persons (even though this was not the main object of her study), stating that such a wage ought to be conceptually higher than Rowntree's "merely physical efficiency" poverty standard. She started with a finding from her study that a "well-nourished" family of five needed at least $6 a week ($312 a year) for food. She then noted that for her whole sample of families (not just the families at the lower end of the sample), food accounted for 43.4 percent of total expenditures. Applying the percentage share to the food expenditure, she concluded that "a 'fair living wage' for a workingman's family of average size in New York City should be at least $728. a year," but after allowing for greater savings, which are "necessary to provide adequately for the future, the income should be somewhat larger...from $800. to $900. a year."(80) More's poverty figure of $600 (based on 1903-1905 expenditure data) would be equal to roughly $2,000 in 1963 dollars--about 54 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Ornati put More's (above-poverty) "fair living wage" standard at his minimum adequacy level. Her figures of $800 to $900 would be equal to roughly $2,700 to $3,100 in 1963 dollars--about 73 to 84 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
In 1909, Robert C. Chapin, an economics professor from Beloit College in Wisconsin, published a study(81) of living standards among New York City working-class families in 1907. In 1906, the New York State Conference of Charities and Correction had appointed a committee "to report to this Conference what constitutes the essentials of a normal standard of living, and the cost of such a standard of living for a definite social unit at this time, in the cities and towns of this State...." Chapin was chosen secretary of this Committee on Standard of Living. In November 1907, the committee made a preliminary report, including a statement of what it felt to be a "fairly conservative...estimate that $825 [a year] is sufficient for the average family of five individuals...to maintain a fairly proper standard of living in the Borough of Manhattan." Chapin then restudied all the material collected, and wrote the book as a final report on the project.(82) Chapin established minimum standards in three areas--food, clothing, and housing. For food, an expenditure standard of 22 cents per day per adult male was established; schedules of food purchased by 100 families were examined by Dr. Frank Underhill, assistant professor of physiological chemistry at Yale University, who found that nutrition was generally inadequate when families spent less than that amount, and generally adequate when they spent more. For clothing, a minimum expenditure standard of $100 a year for a family of five was established. For housing, the minimum was set at one and a half persons per room.(83),(84) After examining patterns and indicators of consumption (including whether families met his three standards) at various income levels, Chapin concluded, "It seems safe to conclude...that an income under $800 is not enough to permit the maintenance of a normal standard....an income of $900 or over probably permits the maintenance of a normal standard, at least so far as the physical man is concerned....Whether an income between $800 and $900 can be made to suffice is a question to which our data do not warrant a dogmatic answer."(85) The committee's $825 figure was reprinted in the book; because of this, and because of Chapin's own somewhat ambiguous references to $800 and $900 figures, there was confusion as to what dollar figure represented his standard. Ornati put Chapin's "normal standard" at his minimum comfort level. The committee's $825 figure would be equal to roughly $2,700 in 1963 dollars--about 73 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. The $900 figure (probably closer to being representative of Chapin's own conclusions) would be equal to roughly $2,900 in 1963 dollars--about 79 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
In 1910, Margaret Byington, previously a district agent with Boston Associated Charities, published a study(86) of 90 households in Homestead, a steel-mill town near Pittsburgh, between October 1907 and April 1908. Her study was part of the Pittsburgh Survey, a major reform-oriented social investigation of industrial and living conditions in the Pittsburgh area by social workers and others which was funded by the Russell Sage Foundation; the results appeared in six volumes (including Byington's) published between 1909 and 1914.(87) The director of this Survey described Byington's study as being intended to address two questions: "how shall local self-government keep abreast of a nationalized industry?" and [a question that has resonances decades later] what has "the longest period of prosperity which has been known by our generation....brought to the rank and file of the people whose waking hours are put into the industry?"(88) Among other things, Byington studied not only the expenditures of the 90 households but also what those expenditures purchased and other aspects of the households' living conditions. "The inquiry was not...primarily statistical, but rather a study at first hand of family life." As a measure of adequacy of the households' actual expenditures for food, she adopted Underhill's standard of 22 cents per day per adult male from Chapin's study.(89) After reviewing the expenditures and levels of living of households by income group, she stated her conclusions about those subjects as follows: "...at the range of prices current in Homestead...only when earnings are $15 a week, or more, can we confidently look for a reasonable margin above the requisite expenditures for necessities. It is only in the group spending more than $20 that we find that the average family has reached a point where, without being spendthrift of the future and without undue pinching in other directions, they can spend enough to satisfy...the reasonable ambitions of an American who puts his life into his work."(90) Here, as with Chapin, it was difficult to identify a specific dollar figure representing her standard. Ornati put her "working margin" standard--i.e., the group with earnings of $15 a week ($780 a year) or more--at his minimum adequacy level. This $780 figure at 1907 prices would be equal to roughly $2,600 in 1963 dollars--about 71 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Byington's "liv[ing] well" lower limit--$20 a week, or $1,040 a year--would be equal to roughly $3,400 in 1963 dollars--about 92 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.(91)
While Byington did not use the standard budget method in her book, she seems to have had a keen sensitivity to its implications (especially as regards diets), as indicated by statements she made in a 1913 article: "Now that the theorists have effectively laid at rest the ghost of the economic man, there seems to be danger that the cost-of-living statisticians will create a new bogey, that of the economic woman; the woman who, without waste or extravagance, can on 22 cents per man per day for food, and 400 cubic feet of air space per adult, create a real home life and preserve the physical efficiency of her family....I am told by medical men that appetite has a distinct effect on the flow of gastric juices. Could a person keep well permanently on a diet planned solely to secure the greatest food value for the least money? There being no 'economic woman,' no family will ever be fed that way, but do not our food cost figures, when applied to wages, assume that that is the way the Slavic laborer lives? These are only queries but they seem to indicate the need of more study before we can gauge what is really extravagance in food expenditure, whether what is reckoned extravagance does not indicate that a housekeeper's common sense provides a more scientific method of feeding than that proposed in laboratory-made dietaries."(92) She seems to have recognized the unrealistically high expectations that the standard budget method imposes on its subjects, especially women, and that what has the imprimatur of being "scientific" may be irrelevant to how real human beings actually behave and live. By the reference to food cost figures being "applied to wages," and by the use of the term "laborer," she seems to have recognized that Atwater-style hypothetical food budgets could be used as a tool to ward off wage increases. By the reference to "the Slavic laborer," she also implied a recognition that the groups against whom hypothetical food budgets could be used were perceived as somehow alien, whether because of their class (being workingmen) or because of their ethnicity (Slavic, in this case).
In 1911, the U.S. Bureau of Labor published a study(93) of the budgets of certain cotton-mill workers in 1908. The study was part of a much larger federal investigation into working conditions of women and children, the initiation of which had been due largely to persistent pressure from settlement house workers concerned about women's working conditions and other social workers opposed to child labor.(94) The budget study grew out of the question of whether families in cotton-mill towns needed the earnings from the labor of their young children in order to have an income that the family could live on. The budget study was done by Wood Worcester, a lawyer who became a social worker, and his wife Daisy Worthington Worcester, a social worker. Inspired by Rowntree's two concepts of poverty, they decided to develop two budget standards.(95) Their "minimum standard of living" was designed "to determine the smallest amount upon which families were living and apparently maintaining physical efficiency." Their "fair standard of living" was designed to provide "not only for physical efficiency but [to allow] for the development and satisfaction of human attributes"; it was to include "[n]othing...other than what some [cotton-mill] families have already attained, and all [such] families are striving to attain." The food component of their minimum standard was a "dietary" used in the federal prison in Atlanta in late 1908 which came close to meeting contemporary Agriculture Department nutrition requirements. The minimum standard excluded amusements and recreations, tobacco, newspapers, the replacement of any worn-out household articles, medical care, and burial expenses; because it also excluded the purchase of schoolbooks, "[t]he children can not go to school...." "If the family [is to] live upon this sum without suffering, wisdom to properly apportion the income is necessary....the mother must be a woman of rare ability. She must know how to make her own and her children's clothing; she must be physically able to do all of the household work, including the washing. And she must know enough to purchase with her allowance food that has the proper nutritive value." For the fair standard, a diet was adopted that was "somewhat better than the prison diet...." The fair standard made allowance for a moderate amount of medical care, burial expenses (through insurance), simple recreation, and the purchase of schoolbooks so children could attend school, but excluded savings and provision for old age. The Worcesters actually identified the fair standard as a poverty line, indicating that medical care was almost as much a necessity as food and shelter; "[i]nability to buy school books for the children, to furnish some simple form of recreation for the family, are unmistakably signs of poverty."(96) However, Ornati put the Worcesters' fair standard at his minimum adequacy level, one level above minimum subsistence [the equivalent of poverty], while putting their minimum standard at his minimum subsistence level.
The Worcesters developed Northern and Southern versions of their budgets, for Fall River, Massachusetts, and for Atlanta and two North Carolina towns, respectively. For the Southern towns, the annual cost for a five-person family of specified composition was $408.26 for the minimum standard and $600.74 for the fair standard. For Fall River, the annual cost for the same type of five-person family was $484.41 for the minimum standard. For the fair standard, rental housing segregation in Fall River led to differing rents and thus different totals for different groups of immigrants: $731.99 for earlier immigrant groups (English, Irish, and Canadian French) and $690.95 for more recent immigrant groups (Portuguese, Polish, and Italian).(97) The Fall River minimum standard figure of $484.41 would be equal to roughly $1,600 in 1963 dollars--about 43 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. The Fall River fair standard figure of $731.99 for the earlier immigrant groups would be equal to roughly $2,500 in 1963 dollars--about 68 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
Two additional individual-city standard budgets, both from the 1911-1921 period, will be briefly discussed below. At least eight additional significant individual-city standard budget studies were published during this period; their contents will not be discussed here, however, due to limitations of length. One of them was a study of family budgets in the Chicago stockyards district done by the University of Chicago Settlement.(98) Another was a study of living standards in New York City and Buffalo in the fourth report of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission.(99) Several others were studies of the "cost of living" in New York City, two done by a municipal agency(100) and the third by Winifred Gibbs(101). Another was a study of living standards in Philadelphia prepared by the Bureau of Municipal Research in that city.(102) Another was a study by Esther Little and William Cotton, two graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, of family budgets in a section of Philadelphia.(103) Another was a study of living standards among Negro families in Philadelphia by Sadie T. Mossell, one of the first three Afro-American women to receive a Ph.D. in the U.S.(104)
In March and April 1916, a Congressional subcommittee held hearings on a bill introduced by Representative John I. Nolan of California to institute a minimum wage of $3 a day for federal employees. In support of the bill, Arthur E. Holder of the American Federation of Labor presented a standard budget showing the "Estimated Minimum Cost of Bare Existence" for a family of five for a year. The food portion of the budget was based on an estimated cost of five cents per meal per person. On this point, Holder commented, "If there are any ladies present who have had charge of a family and have attempted to set a table and cut the price of meals down to 5 cents per meal per person during the year 1915-16 and succeeded, I want to take off my hat to them and do them honor, because they are among the greatest financiers that America possesses to-day....We [Holder's family] can not supply the food for a meager meal, under any circumstances, for less than 10 cents per person. I have, however, placed my figures in this table at 5 cents, so that if...you care to use this data upon the floor of the House...you can easily show that you have not made your estimate high." (Note the parallel to Rowntree's explanation of his diet.) A report on the bill summarized Holder's comments on this point by noting, "Mr. Holder's figures [sic] of 5 cents per meal per person is not given as the actual cost, but merely suggested as the lowest possible estimate." The budget excluded "the following expenses, which are usually necessary in civilized communities:" a winter overcoat for the husband, street car fares, tobacco, whisky, candy, schoolbooks and other school needs, church contributions, newspapers and magazines, the theater, movies, excursions, social or church parties, insurance, trade-union dues, postage and stationery for correspondence, and medical care. "Without any allowance for these things which I have just mentioned, it still costs $767.95 to stay here on earth and serve the Government."(105) Because of the passing reference to "the year 1915-16" and because the budget was presented in March 1916, I have somewhat arbitrarily assumed that prices in the budget were for the period November 1915-February 1916. Holder's budget total of $767.95 would then be equal to about $2,270 in 1963 dollars--62 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five.
In April 1917, the Dallas Wage Commission submitted a report to the mayor and Board of Commissioners of Dallas, Texas. The purpose of the report was to give guidance to the Board of Commissioners for determining the amount of a wage increase for city employees. The report included two standard budgets for a family of five. One budget was for "Lowest 'Bare Existence.'" The other was for a "Safe normal living cost," allowing the family to live in "frugal decency." The "Lowest 'Bare Existence'" budget, prepared by Mary Gearing of the Domestic Science department of the University of Texas (who also prepared the clothing component of the "Safe normal living cost" budget), was described as allowing for "merely the bare necessities of life....nothing for education, recreation or savings." The house was "within walking distance of...work and school so as to make car fare unnecessary." "Food will require the most careful planning, buying and preparation, and the elimination of all waste. It is very doubtful if with the present high cost of foods and the ignorance in food values of the average woman, whether the average family will be properly nourished on this amount." (Food prices were described as being for the end of March 1917.) "...this minimum living cost is not merely the border land between comfort and poverty, but would seem to represent the border land between bare existence and complete misery." The "Safe normal living cost" budget was described as a "minimum normal standard of living," and as providing "means for simple education and recreation." Even for this budget, "Careful planning and a thorough knowledge of food values, marketing and food preservation are necessary in order that the above family may live on an income of a thousand to twelve hundred dollars a year." (The food component of this budget was prepared by Joan Hamilton of the Department of Home Economics of Southern Methodist University.) The annual cost of the "bare existence" budget was $747.00. The annual cost of the "Safe normal living" budget was $1,081.72.(106) Ornati put the "bare existence" budget at his minimum subsistence level, and the "Safe normal living" budget at his minimum adequacy level. On the assumption that all prices were for March 1917, the "bare existence" figure of $747.00 would be equal to about $1,900 in 1963 dollars--52 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. The "Safe normal living" figure of $1,081.72 would be equal to about $2,760 in 1963 dollars--75 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
People had begun reviewing these individual-city standard budgets and developing what I am calling "derivative" poverty lines from them as early as 1909. The first "derivative" poverty line that I have found appeared in a series of articles called "The Conquest of Poverty" that appeared in Metropolitan Magazine in 1909 and 1910. After the introductory article to the series in October 1909, there were articles on what was being done against poverty by organized philanthropy, by the labor unions, by the Catholic Church, by the Socialists, by the Salvation Army, and by the Protestant churches. An idea of the tone of the series may be gained from the following sentence from the first page of the introductory article: "We believe that poverty can be cured; that, like tuberculosis, it is 'communicable, curable, preventable.'"(107) The introductory article briefly reviewed the More study, the Chapin study, and a budget study of Buffalo families in 1908 that was included in the Chapin book, as well as a 1903 U.S. Bureau of Labor study on working-class family expenditures that did not address the issue of income adequacy. Based on this review, the author evidently considered $800 a year to be the poverty line.(108) Prices were about the same in 1909 (the year of the article), 1908 (the year of the Buffalo study), and 1903-1905 (the years when More's data were collected); on the basis of this price level, the $800 figure would be equal to roughly $2,700 in 1963 dollars--about 73 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five.
In 1913, Dr. Scott Nearing published a book(109) on the income and expenditures of wage-earners' families which included a review of several individual-city standard budget studies. Although he was at the time an instructor in economics at the University of Pennsylvania(110), he has been described by Daniel Horowitz as "one of the few radicals to work on household budgets...."(111) He was fired from an assistant professorship of economics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance in 1915 for crusading against child labor, and he was fired from the deanship of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toledo in Ohio in 1917 for writing a tract against American participation in World War I (and for being tried for--and acquitted of--sedition under the Espionage Act).(112) (He had at least tangential connections with the social work movement, having taught a class at a Philadelphia settlement house as a teenage volunteer, and having been an unpaid teacher at the Philadelphia School for Social Work from 1912 to 1915.(113)) In his 1913 book, Nearing reviewed the Chapin, Byington, and Worcester studies. Examining the Worcesters' minimum standard, he criticized the "rare ability" it required of the mother: "[I]f a woman is to support a family on this income [$408.26 a year in North Carolina and Georgia], she must have a skill and power of management which would bring her from $12 to $15 a week [$624 to $780 a year] if she were at work in an industrial establishment....the assumption of the remarkable qualities which the authors of the government study demand in a woman who is to pilot a Georgia family through 365 days on $408.26 is unjustifiable in the extreme. The exceptional woman may possess them; but the average woman does not....Since the housewife in Fall River [the site for the Northern estimate] is to be the same type of super-woman as that demanded in the Georgia estimate, the same objection holds as in that case."(114) He adopted the Worcesters' distinction between a minimum standard of living and a fair standard of living(115); his review is thus the first that I have encountered that presented more than one "derivative" budget level. Concerning the minimum standard, he concluded that it should be no less than $600 a year for a family of five "in a large city where rents are high," while "[i]n districts [such as the South and Fall River, Massachusetts]...where expenses for rent are low...an income between $400 and $500 will provide a family with the barest necessaries." Concerning the fair standard, he concluded that a family of five "cannot maintain a fair standard of living in the industrial towns of [the] Eastern United States on an amount less than $700 a year in the Southern, and $750 a year in the Northern States. In the large cities, where rents are higher, this amount must be increased by at least $100."(116) Nearing did not say anything about price changes during the period following the Chapin, Byington, and Worcester studies, so I will somewhat arbitrarily assume that his figures related to 1907 prices.(117) On this basis, Nearing's figure of $500, a minimum standard figure applicable to the North excluding large cities, would be equal to roughly $1,600 in 1963 dollars--about 43 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. His fair standard figure of $750 for the North excluding large cities would be equal to roughly $2,500 in 1963 dollars--about 68 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
In August 1913, John R. Shillady, the Executive Secretary of the Buffalo Association for the Relief and Control of Tuberculosis, published an article(118) which is the first example I have encountered of a somewhat different type of budget-related review article. He noted that the Byington and Chapin and other studies had established minimum income standards which were affirmed and accepted by the National Conference of Charities and Correction, the national professional organization of social workers, which had also discussed the subject of "adequate relief" at recent meetings. He denounced "[e]ven...liberal relief societies" for generally failing to make relief payments at anything near the minimum income standards that "we ourselves so militantly say are necessary to safe living." This phenomenon of relief payments being significantly lower than generally accepted minimum income or minimum subsistence standards has continued down to the present day.(119) This continuing phenomenon is presumably related to the doctrine of "less eligibility" enunciated by the English Poor Law Commission in 1834 (and reflecting a strongly held attitude among middle-class and upper- class people in both Britain and the United States): that the situation of able-bodied persons receiving relief "shall not be made really or apparently so eligible [desirable] as the situation of the independent labourer of the lowest class."(120) In the context of this attitude, minimum income or poverty standards seem to have become associated in people's minds with "the situation of the independent labourer of the lowest class."(121)
Between 1916 and 1918, Edgar Sydenstricker, a Public Health Statistician in the U.S. Public Health Service, collaborated with colleagues on three items which put forward income adequacy figures--two of them in connection with public health data.(122), (123)
In 1918 and 1919, William F. Ogburn, a University of Washington professor who had come to work as an examiner for the National War Labor Board, wrote two items(127) which included reviews of various individual-city standard budgets and the presentation of a classification of budget levels. He also included a cautionary comment about the unspoken assumptions common in standard budgets: "We can not go on the assumption that the housewife can purchase food values with the skill of a domestic-science expert, or that she has the will power of a Puritan, or that no allowance would be made to the man for drinks and tobacco."(128) His classification is important because it is the first to differentiate between pauper/poverty budgets and minimum-of-subsistence budgets, and because it was a source for the Douglas' four-level classification (although they did not cite it as such).(129) Ogburn's three budget classifications were the "pauper or poverty level," the "minimum of subsistence level," and the "minimum comfort level." His "pauper" budgets were basically budgets used by charity organizations to provide charitable assistance to needy families; indeed, at one point he used the phrase "[t]he poverty budget at the charity level...." He described these "pauper" budgets as being "somewhat below the subsistence level." He stressed the importance of the minimum- of-subsistence budget, and wrote that "it is hoped that less and less attention will have to be paid to" the pauper budget. His minimum of subsistence level was "based essentially on physical well-being with little attention paid to the social scale." He wrote that this budget level was "of the utmost importance because it determines the line below which American families ought not to be allowed under any circumstances to sink." His minimum comfort level was "one level above...the subsistence level, and provides slightly more for comforts, insurance, clothing, and sundries, and is supposed to furnish a certain well-being above that of the physical level."(130) Ogburn's differentiation between pauper budgets and minimum-of-subsistence budgets provides clear evidence of the continuation of the pattern described by Shillady in 1913 of relief payments being lower than generally accepted minimum income standards.
In the July 1918 Memorandum on the Minimum Wage... for the National War Labor Board, Ogburn presented budgets for a family of five in June 1918 at his minimum of subsistence level and his minimum comfort level. For the first--actually labeled as a "minimum budget" and a "Tentative budget American subsistence level, 1918."--the annual cost was $1,386. For the second, the annual cost was $1,760.50.(131) Ornati put Ogburn's minimum- of-subsistence budget at his minimum adequacy level, and put an earlier version of Ogburn's minimum comfort budget at his minimum comfort level. At June 1918 prices, Ogburn's lower budget figure of $1,386 would be equal to about $2,880 in 1963 dollars--78 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Ogburn's minimum comfort budget figure of $1,760.50 would be equal to about $3,660 in 1963 dollars--essentially equal to Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
Dorothy Douglas' classification scheme of "four working- class levels or standards of living" (as presented in the 1923 book by her husband and two colleagues) has already been briefly described above. As indicated in a 1921 version of the classification, her "poverty" level was actually a "pauper" (relief/charity budget) level. Her minimum of subsistence level was a "level at which the income is sufficient for complete physical and material upkeep of a bare kind, but insufficient either for major emergencies or for any social pleasures that cost money." Her minimum health and decency (subsistence plus) level "allows explicitly for not only the physical but the elementary social necessities." Her comfort level "represents the attainment of the highest class of wage-earners and the cynosure of the rest." She gave income figures (for a family of five) for all four levels. All figures seem to be for 1923 except for the minimum health and decency figure, which for some reason was given at "autumn, 1922, prices." For the poverty (pauper) level, the dollar range was $1,000 to $1,100. For the minimum of subsistence level, the dollar range was $1,100 to $1,400. For the minimum health and decency level, the dollar range was $1,500 to $1,700. For the comfort level, the figure was $2,100.(132) Her poverty (pauper) level figures of $1,000 to $1,100 would be equal to about $1,790 to $1,970 in 1963 dollars-- 49 to 53 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. Her minimum of subsistence figures of $1,100 to $1,400 would be equal to about $1,970 to $2,510 in 1963 dollars--53 to 68 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five. At October-December 1922 prices, her minimum health and decency figures of $1,500 to $1,700 would be equal to about $2,730 to $3,090 in 1963 dollars-- 74 to 84 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five. Her comfort figure of $2,100 would be equal to about $3,760 in 1963 dollars--102 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.(133)
In September 1921, Margaret Stecker, an employee of the National Industrial Conference Board (NICB), had written an article(134) which included arguments against assuming in developing standard budgets that the "typical" or "normal" family was a five-person family comprising a married couple and three children under 14 years of age, with the father being the only wage-earner. This was not merely a question of demographic accuracy, as labor unions were advocating that adult male workers should be paid a living wage large enough to maintain a "standard" family of five. (This ideal was honored more in the breach than in the observance.) In September 1924, liberal economist Paul Douglas wrote an article(135) showing that the average size of families in the United States was smaller than the "standard" figure of five persons. Douglas was not writing to undercut labor; he advocated family allowances as a means of dealing with the question of varying family sizes of wage-earners. Others, however, were willing to budget for a smaller-sized family without advocating any further action. Realizing this, John Fremont Frey, Special Representative of the Stereotypers and Electrotypers Union, speaking at a Round Table on Family Budgets at the December 1926 meeting of the American Economic Association, "urged continued use of the standard family of five and asked that all students of the subject decline to make estimates for a smaller sized family."(136) In the summer of 1928, the NICB started issuing standard budgets (at higher-than-subsistence levels) for four- person rather than five-person families.(137) By the 1930's and 1940's, most people developing standard budgets were basing them on four-person families. In October 1944, an article in an NICB publication argued that even a four-person family was too large for budgeting purposes(138); however, nothing seems to have come of this argument, presumably because of the effect of the Baby Boom on average family size.
In 1929, Paul Nystrom, a professor of marketing at Columbia University's School of Business, published a book, Economic Principles of Consumption, which included chapters on the history of family budget studies and the classification of standards of living. After briefly reviewing a number of family budget studies between 1903 and 1927, he described ten different standards of living ranging from "Public and semi-public charges," "The work-shy, tramps, hoboes and incompetents," "Poverty," "Bare subsistence level," and "Minimum for health and efficiency" at the bottom to "Well-to-do" and "Liberal standards of living" at the top. He presented dollar figures for the year 1929 for "Bare subsistence," "Minimum for health and efficiency," and five higher standards for urban individuals and for urban couples with zero to three children.(139) Although some individual- city standard budgets (e.g., the Worcester study) had provided separate figures for different family sizes, these are the earliest "derivative" poverty/subsistence lines that I have yet found with separate figures by family size. Nystrom's multiplicity of lower-income standards is somewhat confusing, but I will take his "Bare subsistence" dollar figures as being roughly equivalent to what we think of as poverty. (Indeed, in terms of Ornati's figures for 1929, Nystrom's "Bare subsistence" figure for a family of four is well above the minimum subsistence level and almost equal to the minimum adequacy level.) Nystrom's "Bare subsistence" figures were $1,500 for a family of four and $1,800 for a family of five. The $1,500 figure for a family of four would be equal to about $2,680 in 1963 dollars--86 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In January 1933, the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care published a study by Louis Reed on the ability to pay for medical care. "During the Committee's deliberations...it was repeatedly stated that expenditures for medical service could not be interpreted satisfactorily except in relation to expenditures for other items in the family budget....accordingly the Committee undertook this further study. The present report....also attempts to appraise the economic status of the American people as it affects their capacity to pay for medical care." "Two factors of recent origin bring into prominence the question of the ability of the American people to pay for medical care. Of late years a feeling has gained ground in this country that the cost of medical service is high....Conversely, an increasing protest is heard from professional quarters against the large, and probably increasing amount of free medical service...." "Ultimately, the largest group and the largest governmental unit is the nation. The ability to pay for medical care is unquestionably greatest when the nation as a whole is the unit...." Reed examined a number of standard budgets from the 1915-1931 period at the "minimum subsistence" level and the "minimum comfort"/"minimum health and decency" level. He concluded that for an urban family of five persons in 1929, it would probably have taken $1,200 to $1,300 to maintain a "minimum subsistence" standard of living, and that it would have taken $1,800 to $2,100 to maintain a "minimum comfort" standard of living.(140) His minimum subsistence figures of $1,200 to $1,300 would be equal to about $2,150 to $2,330 in 1963 dollars--58 to 63 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,685 for a family of five. His minimum comfort figures of $1,800 to $2,100 would be equal to about $3,220 to $3,760 in 1963 dollars--87 to 102 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of five.
In late 1933, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced four diets or food plans at different cost levels.(141) They are relevant to the history of poverty lines because the two cheapest of them were used both by Margaret Stecker in the 1930's to develop her emergency and maintenance budgets and by Mollie Orshansky in the 1960's to develop her poverty and near-poverty thresholds. As introduced in 1933, the diets were (from the cheapest to the most expensive) the restricted diet for emergency use (abbreviated below as RDEU), the adequate diet at minimum cost (ADMinC), the adequate diet at moderate cost (ADModC), and the liberal diet. The ADMinC, the ADModC, and the liberal diet were direct predecessors of today's low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal food plans. The RDEU was a quasi-predecessor of the economy food plan used to develop the current poverty thresholds and of today's thrifty food plan used to set food stamp benefit levels. The ADMinC was actually introduced (although not under that name) in late 1930 in response to the combined effects of a major drought in 1930 and the Great Depression.(142) The RDEU first appeared (also not by that name) in a 1931 leaflet.(143) The November 1933 circular introducing the four food plans said that the RDEU "provides approximately the minimum requirements of the body for the various nutrients, but allows little margin for safety. It represents good food selection when a fully adequate diet is beyond reach, but is not recommended for use over indefinite periods. It represents quantities of 'protective' and other foods below which it is not safe to reduce the food supply....[This] diet...has a lower retail value than have diets budgeted by many if not most organized social agencies for dependent families in times of national prosperity. It has a higher retail value, however, than does the food which can be procured with the relief allowances furnished thousands of families in the period of widespread unemployment during 1931-33."(144) The shorter publication issued the next month added the comment that the RDEU "should not be used as a basis for determining a money allowance with which untrained persons are expected to purchase their food supplies."(145) The three higher diets--in contrast to the RDEU--were characterized as being "adequate"; this was evidently because they met dietary allowances for all (or almost all) nutrients, whereas the RDEU fell somewhat short of those allowances in a number of cases.(146) Concerning the fact that the RDEU was not an adequate diet, a 1987 article about U.S. food guides since 1917 commented, "The understanding that perhaps the poor could afford only a marginal diet was a radical departure from earlier assumptions that in the United States nutritionally adequate diets could and should be available to everyone."(147) The four food plans were presented with the comment that "The general use of either of the two diets at the higher levels of nutritive content [the ADModC and the liberal diet] would not only improve the health and efficiency of the population, but at the same time would foster the type of agriculture which represents wise utilization of land for the country as a whole."(148) The food plans were revised every two or three years after they were first introduced; in the 1941 revision, the RDEU was dropped, leaving the low-cost adequate diet, the moderate-cost adequate diet, and the liberal diet.(149)
The authorship of Bureau of Home Economics publications and other sources indicate that there was a high proportion of women professionals--e.g., home economists--in that bureau during this period.(150) The authorship of later publications indicates that there continued to be a high proportion of women professionals in the (renamed) Bureau of Home Economics after World War II.
In 1934, the Brookings Institution published a book titled America's Capacity to Consume. It was part of a four-volume study the overall purpose of which was "to determine whether the existing distribution of income in the United States among various groups in society tends to impede the efficient functioning of the economic system," with low incomes among "the masses of people" leading to low consumption, low capacity utilization, and slow economic growth. In the book, the authors presented an estimated income distribution for families and "unattached" individuals for the year 1929. (They indicated that the average size of families was "just a fraction over four.") The authors estimated the effects on consumption of various possible changes in the existing (1929) income distribution--for instance, raising families to "a minimum family income of $2,500" (a "very moderate" income, which "permits few of the luxuries of life, even for families of only two or three persons"); this would have increased aggregate family consumer expenditures roughly 25 percent above the actual 1929 level. They also considered the income levels at which nonfarm families' actual food expenditures equalled the costs of the four food plans which the USDA had released the previous year. In this context, they considered another possible change in the existing income distribution: "It would seem a reasonable minimum aim of our national economy to provide the entire population with a 'liberal diet,' which would furnish adequate nutrition, a substantial margin of safety in respect to vitamins and minerals, and a satisfying variety of foods; and at the same time to permit the purchase of such necessities and comforts as are ordinarily associated with a 'liberal diet.'" However, the increase in production necessary to reach this "minimum aim" would have been sufficiently large that "The fulfillment of this goal necessarily lies in the future." When they had presented their estimated income distribution, they had divided it into six economic classes. The lowest of these income classes, "subsistence and poverty," comprised families with annual incomes below $1,500 and unattached individuals with incomes below $750.(151),(152) Their family poverty/subsistence line of $1,500 would be equal to about $2,680 in 1963 dollars--86 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
As the New Deal got going, three poverty lines were developed during the late 1930's that were derived from studies by federal government agencies--even though none of them was adopted as an official federal measure of poverty.
In 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) published a research bulletin by Margaret Stecker(153) presenting quantity budgets of goods and services at two levels of living.(154) In July 1937, WPA published a research monograph by Stecker which provided prices for the two budgets in 59 cities.(155) The study had begun in 1935 as "a plan for studying the adequacy of relief,"(156) but the statements of purpose in the final research monograph contained no reference to relief.(157) Stecker's budgets were for an urban married-couple family of four with an employed father; the father was an unskilled manual worker and "wears overalls at his work." One budget was at the "maintenance level" ("a basic family maintenance standard"); the other was at the "emergency level." The emergency budget was "a direct concession to conditions produced by the depression, constructed...[for] circumstances under which families can and do cut costs temporarily without great physical discomfort"--yet "those forced to exist at the emergency level for an extended period may be subjected to serious health hazards." "The emergency budget, restricted as it is, represents a better level of living than most relief budgets allow." Its food component was the Agriculture Department's RDEU. The maintenance budget "contains minimum quantities of goods and services typical of the simple requirements of persons of small means, and includes provision for psychological as well as physical needs." Its food component was the Agriculture Department's ADMinC. "Neither of these budgets approaches the content of what may be considered a satisfactory American standard of living, nor do their costs measure what families in this country would have to spend to secure 'the abundant life.' Such a standard would include an automobile, better housing and equipment, a more varied diet...preventive medical care[, and p]rovision...for future education of the children and for...saving." At March 1935 prices, the average annual cost of the emergency budget (based on the unweighted average of figures for the 59 cities) was $903.27, and the average annual cost of the maintenance budget was $1,260.62.(158) The emergency budget figure is somewhat above Ornati's minimum subsistence(159) dollar figure for 1935, and the maintenance budget figure is quite close to his minimum adequacy dollar figure for 1935. The emergency budget figure of $903.27 would be equal to about $2,020 in 1963 dollars--65 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four. The maintenance budget figure of $1,260.62 would be equal to about $2,820 in 1963 dollars--90 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold for a family of four.
In his Second Inaugural Address, on January 20, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day....I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions. I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."(160) An extensive national sample survey, the Study of Consumer Purchases, had been conducted during the year before Roosevelt's address, but the first major report of results from it was not issued until 1938. This report presented estimated income distribution data for the twelve-month period from July 1935 through June 1936. One chart and table combined data for families and "single" [unrelated] individuals and divided the resulting distribution into lower, middle, and upper thirds [quite possibly reflecting President Roosevelt's reference to "one-third of a nation..."]. The lower "third of the Nation" comprised all families and unrelated individuals with annual incomes below $780.(161) (The estimated income distribution included not only money income but also some private nonmoney income--e.g., "the net value of the occupancy of an owned home...."(162) The dollar figure marking off the lower third would probably have been somewhat lower than $780 for a distribution which included money income only.(163)) This $780 figure was sometimes used as an approximate measure of poverty for this period--or, perhaps more frequently, was subsequently remembered as having been such a measure of poverty.(164) At July 1935-June 1936 prices, the $780 figure would be equal to about $1,740 in 1963 dollars. Since the $780 figure was derived from a distribution including families of all sizes and unrelated individuals as well, it is not easy to decide which poverty threshold it is most appropriate to compare this figure to; however, note that $1,740 (in 1963 dollars) is equal to 71 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $2,442 for a family of three(165), and 56 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
The National Health Survey was conducted slightly earlier than the Study of Consumer Purchases; it gathered data on money income during the year 1935. One of the preliminary reports, on the relief and income status of the urban population in over 80 cities, was published in 1938. It presented data on persons in families (including unrelated individuals as "one-person families") by relief/nonrelief status and showed the nonrelief group by annual family income. Several pages showed data on a category that combined relief families with those nonrelief families with incomes under $1,000; this category was used "as a measure of low income." (A briefly discussed alternative measure used $1,500 instead of $1,000.)(166) The $1,000 figure would be equal to about $2,230 in 1963 dollars. As with the Study of Consumer Purchases, it is not easy to decide which poverty threshold it is most appropriate to compare this figure to; however, note that $2,230 (in 1963 dollars) is equal to 91 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $2,442 for a family of three, and 71 percent of Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In 1938, Carroll Daugherty, an economics professor, published a revised edition of a book on American labor problems which included a section on standards of economic well-being. After alluding to a number of family budget studies from 1903 on as summarized in several standard compilations, he presented dollar figures for the years 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, and 1935 for the "poverty plane" and several higher standards of living for individuals and for couples with various numbers of children. His poverty plane was a poverty/pauper level similar to that of Ogburn and the Douglases. He also mentioned a "subsistence plane," "signif[ying] roughly incomes which are above the poverty level and substantially below the health-and-decency standard." This subsistence plane seems to correspond to what we think of today as poverty. However, since he did not give dollar figures for the subsistence plane, I will discuss some of his dollar figures for the poverty plane; figures for four- and five-person families were as follows(167):
1910 1918 1929 1932 1935
Four persons $490 $800 $ 860 $690 $730 Five persons 570 930 1000 810 850
Although some individual-city standard budgets had been repriced for years subsequent to their first pricing, Daugherty's figures are the first "derivative" poverty lines that I have found with separate figures for years with different price levels. A table which he cited in a 1937 book of his indicated that 1929 was his base year, and that he probably calculated figures for the other years by applying the National Industrial Conference Board's cost of living index to the 1929 figures.(168) Interestingly enough, however, this presentation of a constant-dollar poverty line over a 25-year span was inconsistent with a comment that he himself made in the same section concerning the concept of the income elasticity of the poverty line; he wrote that standard budgets "must also be changed occasionally, whenever there are significant shifts in the nature of the items concerned or whenever people's objectives and standards change. A standard budget worked out in the [1890's], for example, would have no place for electric appliances, automobiles, spinach, radios, and many other things which found a place on the 1938 comfort model. The budget of 1950 [12 years after 1938, and 21 years after his base year of 1929] will undoubtedly make the present one look as antiquated as the hobble skirt."(169)
Daugherty's "poverty plane" figure of $860 for a family of four in 1929 is 24 percent below Ornati's minimum subsistence dollar figure for 1929; presumably if Daugherty had given a "subsistence plane" figure, it would have been closer to Ornati's figure. The $860 figure would be equal to about $1,540 in 1963 dollars--49 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In addition to discussing "absolute" standards of economic well-being based on budget studies, Daugherty also discussed "relative" standards of economic well-being. "...the burdens of subsistence living might be considerably easier [for workers] to bear if one knew that bondholders, stockholders, or corporation executives were in the same income brackets. The adequacy of workers' incomes, in short, must be appraised in relative as well as absolute terms." Daugherty mentioned two ways of doing this, one of them being to compare the shares of national income going to labor and capital. "This approach, however, fails to throw much light on the relative economic position of individual workers." Accordingly, he instead supported another approach-- dividing the aggregate income of each group by the number of persons in it. (Presumably if the necessary microdata had been available, he would have suggested such refinements as including other sources of income, adjusting for family size, and so on.) He did not propose any sort of relative poverty line, but he did put forward several criteria for evaluating average worker incomes and their changes over time: that average worker income "should not be greatly below" the average income of other groups; that average worker income should rise at least as fast as or fall no more rapidly than that of other other groups; and that if average worker income "was considerably below" average non-worker income, the gap should be reduced over time.(170)
During the late 1930's and early 1940's, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued a number of estimates of the updated cost of the WPA maintenance budget [at Ornati's minimum adequacy level] for a number of the cities for which it had originally been priced.(171) A number of journal articles and other analyses between 1939 and 1948 used the updated WPA maintenance budget and other indicators to show that there were significant numbers of American families--particularly families with children--that had inadequate incomes.(172) BLS did issue one estimate of the updated cost of the WPA emergency budget [at Ornati's minimum subsistence level] for a number of the cities for which it had originally been priced(173), but did not issue additional updated estimates of its cost.(174) Early in 1944, however, the Research Department of the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) issued an update of the WPA emergency budget for three New England and two North Carolina textile-manufacturing communities. (Like the original emergency budget, this update was for a four-person family.) "The President, and Congress have...directed the National War Labor Board to eliminate substandard conditions, since they affect the health and efficiency of American workers, and thereby obstruct the production of vital materials necessary for the conduct of the war....The cotton-rayon textile workers, the largest single industrial group in this country, suffer from inordinately low wages which doom them to poverty and substandard conditions of living....The WPA emergency budget was priced because it represented the lowest conceivable budget which could be proposed for active, patriotic, self-supporting, self- respecting American workers....Workers who do not earn enough to maintain this standard of living must have their earnings raised to assure at least this minimum income standard." TWUA added allowances to the emergency budget for taxes, for the purchase of war bonds, and for union dues.(175) In addition, "at the suggestion of the experts in the Departments of Agriculture and Labor," the emergency budget's original food component [the Agriculture Department's RDEU] was replaced by the Agriculture Department's low-cost food plan [the successor of the ADMinC].(176) (This presumably reflected the fact that the Agriculture Department had eliminated the RDEU in 1941.) Furthermore, TWUA added an allowance for "Food buying habit adjustment" equal to 17 percent of the food plan cost.(177) They cited Stecker's statement in one of her original studies that "Present food consumption habits do not conform to the nutrition standards exemplified in these diet plans, and since the housewife will not always purchase the low- price items specified, a satisfactory food allowance of necessity will be higher than the amount for which theoretically it could be bought. An allowance added for unwise selection and for waste in purchasing, preparing and serving food may be necessary to insure a diet adequate from a nutritional standpoint."(178) TWUA also cited "the absence and scarcity of many lower price food items particularly during the current war-time period. Substitutes [often]....are more expensive and frequently less nutritious than the original food item." Also, TWUA noted, quantities in the low-cost food plan were sometimes so small that the food in question was not sold in that quantity in stores. TWUA also briefly cited the proportions of families in the appropriate low income range in recent dietary surveys whose actual diets were assessed as "poor." For all these reasons, TWUA argued, an additional allowance beyond the dollar cost of the theoretical low-cost food plan was necessary in order for families' actual diets to meet nutritional standards.(179) This allowance was significant in that it represented a direct budgetary challenge to the Atwater-style implicit assumptions about theoretical food plans and the "super-woman" (Nearing) or the "economic woman" (Byington) who was supposed to be able to live up to them. Potential interactions between food plan assumptions and wage levels are also clear.
With the modifications described above, the total annual cost of the TWUA emergency budget in the five textile- manufacturing communities in January-February 1944 was $1,752.18.(180) (Ornati put this budget at his minimum adequacy level.) The figure of $1,752.18 would be equal to about $3,080 in 1963 dollars--98 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four. (In terms of Ornati's classifications, what this means is that a 1944 minimum adequacy budget--one level above minimum subsistence--was essentially equal in constant-dollar terms to Orshansky's 1963 [minimum subsistence] poverty threshold.)
The Acting Commissioner of Labor Statistics wrote a letter to TWUA calling their revision of the emergency budget "a very valuable contribution," but saying it would "be difficult to support the allowance of $109 per year which you have included to compensate for lack of knowledge of nutrition and poor planning in food buying. There is no way of knowing how much money would be required to insure adequate diets for textile workers' families to compensate for these factors."(181) These points were briefly repeated in a Monthly Labor Review article which conceded that "an allowance for [the food shopping allowance] can be justified" even if one could not say how much it should be.(182) A less positive response to the TWUA study was issued by the National Industrial Conference Board. While not challenging the addition of taxes and union dues to the budget, the NICB opposed both the use of the low-cost food plan and TWUA's food buying habit adjustment. The NICB also opposed the inclusion of war bond purchases in the budget; by stressing the "emergency sustenance budget" and "minimum budget" nature of the original WPA budget, the NICB avoiding facing the issue of whether it was legitimate to expect that self-supporting American workers should be able to accumulate some savings under the (strongly promoted but not strictly compulsory) war bond purchase program. By eliminating the food shopping allowance and the war bond purchase allowance, the NICB reduced the cost of the updated emergency budget to $1,454.74.(183)
Knowledge of the Douglas classification scheme as a framework in which to view standard budgets seems to have gradually been lost during the 1940's. While a Treasury Department study was using a similar classification as late as 1947(184), a 1944 Congressional subcommittee report simply listed three budgets without discussing any classification scheme or framework(185), while a 1948 Library of Congress analysis on minimum wages simply discussed the Bureau of Labor Statistics' City Worker's Family Budget without listing any other budgets or any budget classification framework.(186)
During a period that began about 1946, poverty lines in the United States were generally not derived from standard budgets. Instead, analysts generally simply set a dollar figure (or figures), with greater or lesser amounts of supporting details and rationales. Almost the only connection with standard budgets was that some analysts indicated that they were setting their poverty lines to be noticeably lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics' City Worker's Family Budget (first released in 1948). During most of this period, it was still the case that neither "poverty" nor "poverty lines" was a single field of discourse. A Congressional subcommittee staff, various components of the (AFL-)CIO, both Republican and Democratic Councils of Economic Advisers, lobbyists for greater economic growth and income redistribution, academic economists, writers in liberal and in radical periodicals, federal civil servants--all were trying to develop or revise poverty lines, but many were not aware of much of the work being done by others in different institutional settings. For instance, in a section in a book published in 1966, Herman Miller of the Census Bureau mentioned only six of the (at least) nineteen other persons or groups who set poverty lines during this period(187)--and that is probably more than any other writer of the period mentioned.
This period (which will be referred to below as "Period II") can be divided into two subperiods. The first subperiod (Subperiod IIA), which lasted from 1949 to about 1958, was the subperiod of the Subcommittee on Low-Income Families' $2,000 low- income [poverty] line (described below). Of the various poverty lines developed during this subperiod, most did not have separate figures even for families and unrelated individuals, let alone for different family sizes. Analysts were only beginning during the latter part of this subperiod to address the issue of adjusting poverty lines for year-to-year price changes. The second subperiod (Subperiod IIB), which began about 1958, was a subperiod of higher, less rudimentary poverty lines; analysts developed and published poverty lines more frequently during this subperiod than they had during Subperiod IIA. Most of the poverty lines during this subperiod were higher in real terms than the Subcommittee's $2,000 low-income line, again illustrating the income elasticity of the poverty line. Most of the poverty lines during this subperiod had separate figures at least for families and for unrelated individuals, and just over half of them had separate figures for different family sizes. There were more poverty lines during Subperiod IIB because it was a period of increased interest in poverty in the U.S.--and, conversely, the more frequent studies of poverty (with their poverty lines) helped cause that increased interest.
In February 1948, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its City Worker's Family Budget (CWFB) in an article in the Monthly Labor Review. (It was subsequently updated several times for price changes, with the last update being published in the Monthly Labor Review in May 1952.) It was explicitly described as "not a 'subsistence' or 'maintenance' budget...that...attempts to provide only for physical needs, or what would be necessary to carry families through a limited period of stringency." Instead, it was described as "a modest but adequate standard of living."(188) (Ornati put the CWFB at his minimum adequacy level--one level above minimum subsistence.) Even though it was not a poverty budget, it is mentioned here because of its indirect influence on poverty lines during Period II. It is of interest that the CWFB did not use any of the Agriculture Department food plans for its food component; instead, the BLS budgeters arranged actual diets of urban families in a scale or succession of diets on the basis of the calories and nutrient quantities provided, and the food component was "determined at the point in the scale of diets where the consumption of calories and nutrients agreed most closely with the recommendations of the National Research Council. This method of deriving the food budget leads to a grouping of foods in the way that families with satisfactory diets actually buy them." The food component also [unlike the USDA food plans] allowed for about 5 percent of the meals to be purchased away from home.(189)
Besides the two authors, the article presenting the CWFB named eight other people in a footnote on the first page as having made "major contributions" to the development of the budget. Of these ten people, seven were women. Similarly, the article(190) presenting a revision of the CWFB in 1960 had two authors and named four other people in a footnote on the first page as having made "[m]ajor contributions." Of these six people, five were women. This suggests a preponderance of women in the portions of BLS dealing with family budgets and consumer expenditures that was similar to the preponderance of women in the Agriculture Department's Bureau of Home Economics discussed above. One may note in this connection that Mollie Orshansky has described(191) a pattern in the field of economics during her professional career in which men tended to be interested in macroeconomics (an area with more professional prestige), while women tended to be interested in distributional or household economics, looking at such subjects as how many families have unmet needs and working with household surveys and family studies--empirical studies with individual observations. These patterns were epitomized in a striking statement made at a 1965 conference by Eugene Smolensky (at that time an associate professor of business economics at the University of Chicago): "...of course this field [counting the poor] belongs to these ladies of the Federal Government, not only the ones who are here [Mollie Orshansky, Helen Lamale, and Faith Clark], but you know all the names: Faith Williams, Lenore Epstein, and Margaret Stecker, and Eleanor Snyder, and the woman who taught me everything I know in this area, Dorothy Brady....What these ladies do, obviously, is eminently sensible: they draw a poverty line; they try to establish some kind of minimum income on the basis of some kind of definition of need."(192) (Among the "ladies" Smolensky named were employees of the Social Security Administration's Division/Office of Research and Statistics, in which the poverty thresholds had just been developed; employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics who had helped developed the CWFB; and employees of the Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics who had helped develop and revise the USDA food plans.)
In a December 1948 publication, the Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics issued a revision of its low-cost and moderate-cost food plans. (The liberal food plan had been dropped in 1943.) This revision also described "another low-cost [food] plan" the foods in which could "be purchased for 15 to 20 percent less than those in the low-cost plan...." The Bureau said that it had developed this plan in response to requests "for help in planning nutritionally adequate food quantities that will cost less than the low-cost plan...and at the same time will take into account customary food habits."(193) A version of this publication that was "[s]lightly revised" in February 1950 added a statement (p. 15) that this lower-cost plan "should not be used as a basis for money allowances for food unless careful guidance in food management is provided at the same time." It seems somewhat anomalous that a quasi-successor to the RDEU should have been introduced at a time when economic conditions were considerably better than during the Great Depression which gave rise to the original RDEU. It is believed that this food plan (which did not even have a proper name) was not included in periodic pricings of foods under the low-cost and moderate-cost food plans which USDA issued; this plan was not mentioned in revisions of the food plans in 1953, 1955, 1957, and 1959.
In July 1949, the chairman of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Economic Report [subsequently renamed the Joint Economic Committee] appointed a subcommittee to do a study of low-income families.(194) In November 1949, the new Subcommittee on Low-Income Families (SLIF) issued a report containing material on low-income families to serve as background for the subcommittee's hearings and deliberations.(195) In introducing the report, the SLIF staff (which had assembled the material in the report) wrote that the dollar figures it was using "are not intended to be, and must not be interpreted to be, a definition of 'low' income. The boundary line on the income scale between want and sufficiency is difficult to determine, particularly...for purposes of a national study....The cash-income levels chosen for the present report were selected only to designate an income group for intensive study. An important consideration in making the choice was to use amounts which would be realistic in even the lowest-cost areas of the country." The figures that the staff chose were $2,000 in annual money income for nonfarm families (sometimes loosely referred to in the report as "urban" families) and $1,000 for farm families; the staff also implicitly set $1,000 as the figure for unrelated individuals, whether nonfarm or farm. The year for which data were presented was 1948.(196) (Ornati's minimum subsistence dollar figure for a four-person family for 1948 was $2,107; 1948 was the first year in which his minimum subsistence dollar figure (in current dollars) was higher than $2,000.) Since the $2,000 figure was applied to families of all sizes, there is some ambiguity about which poverty threshold it is most appropriate to compare it to. However, as noted below, President Johnson's Council of Economic Advisers in January 1964 set a poverty line of $3,000 in 1962 dollars for families of all sizes.(197) The SLIF $2,000 figure would be equal to about $2,520 in 1962 dollars--84 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line.
At the December 1949 hearings of the SLIF, a representative of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)(198) stated, "We do...want the record to indicate that we do not consider $2,000...as the standard for a proper level of living for either a family or an individual man or woman living alone."(199) On the other side, in 1950 the American Economic Foundation published a pamphlet by Edward Keller (with a foreword by Herbert Hoover) challenging "misinterpretation" of the SLIF staff's November 1949 report; in the foreword, Hoover said that newspaper headlines had "implied that 25 per cent of our families were suffering great hardships," but went on to say that Keller's "final estimation is that the report itself does not indicate hardship in more than a minor proportion of these families."(200) (In this case, Keller and Hoover did not try to push the level of the low-income line down below $2,000; instead, they tried to deny that the SLIF's figure represented a real poverty--i.e., "hardship"--line.) On the whole, however, the SLIF's low-income line was accepted with surprisingly little dispute. In the relatively sparse poverty literature of Subperiod IIA--and in the even smaller subset of this literature which mentioned a specific poverty line--the SLIF's figure was used by a large majority of those articles which used someone else's poverty line rather than setting their own.(201)
In November 1953, in his report to the 1953 Constitutional Convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Walter Reuther, President of the CIO, described low-income families as "families with incomes of less than $3000 per year," after having mentioned and implicitly rejected a figure of $2,000 (the SLIF's figure) as a low-income line. The latest income data he cited were for 1951. He did not give a separate figure for unrelated individuals.(202) (In a report to the previous year's convention, Reuther's predecessor, Philip Murray, had used the Subcommittee's figure of $2,000.(203)) Based on 1951 prices, the $3,000 figure would be equal to about $3,480 in 1962 dollars--116 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line of $3,000. Reuther's $3,000 low-income figure was used again in a resolution at the 1954 CIO Convention(204) and in a resolution at the 1955 AFL-CIO Convention(205) without any adjustment for price changes.
In the 1954 Economic Report, President Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisers included a brief section on "Low Incomes and the Minimum Wage," beginning with the sentence, "The prosperity enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of Americans should not blind us to the minority of families with annual incomes below $2,000, or even $1,500." Using the term "poverty" as well as the term "low income," the section went on to mention "families with incomes under $1,500 in 1950."(206) Material in the papers of Ida Merriam (who worked for the Social Security Administration from 1936 to the 1970's) indicates that some sort of study of low- income families using the $1,500 income limit was done about 1954. The discussion of the $1,500 figure must be taken as an effort to push the poverty/low-income line down below the SLIF's $2,000 figure. Based on 1950 prices, the $1,500 figure for families would be equal to about $1,890 in 1962 dollars--63 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line of $3,000. The $1,500 figure for families would be equal to about $1,910 in 1963 dollars--slightly lower in constant dollars than Louise Bolard More's 1903-1905 poverty figure (roughly $2,000 in 1963 dollars).
The Eisenhower Council of Economic Advisers carried its effort further in the 1955 Economic Report of the President. That report contained a brief section on "Augmenting Low Incomes" which began with the words "A small and shrinking, but still significant, number of American families have cash incomes under $1,000 per family. By current standards, most of them must be considered poverty-stricken."(207) (No year was given; since the most recent year for which Census Bureau family income data were available at this time was 1952, that may be taken to be the year to which the $1,000 figure applied.) Based on 1952 prices, the $1,000 figure for families would be equal to about $1,140 in 1962 dollars--38 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line of $3,000. The $1,000 figure for families would be equal to about $1,150 in 1963 dollars--lower in constant dollars than any poverty/subsistence line or "pauper" budget previously cited except W.E.B. DuBois' 1899 "direct translation" of a British poverty line into U.S. dollars (roughly $950 in 1963 dollars).
The Eisenhower Council of Economic Advisers' attempt to push down the level of the poverty/low-income line was not successful. One or two secondary sources did mention the $1,000 figure, but went on immediately to say that the poverty line was generally considered to be $2,000 (or even higher).(208) The 1956 Economic Report of the President--issued after the October 1955 staff report of the reconstituted Subcommittee on Low-Income Families (see below) had also implicitly rejected the $1,000 figure--did not cite any figure for poverty at all, merely saying that "...the dimensions of present-day poverty are not reliably measured."(209)
In July 1954, the Conference on Economic Progress (CEP) had published a study entitled Toward Full Employment and Full Production[:] How to End Our National Economic Deficits. The CEP was a non-profit group which favored increased public spending to stimulate economic growth, full employment, and full production, and to meet important human needs. Members of its National Committee included Walter Reuther and Leon Keyserling, an economist and the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Truman; Keyserling directed the CEP's staff work. This study implicitly set a poverty line of $4,000 for families as of 1950.(210) (No separate figure was given or implied for unrelated individuals.) Further analyses by the CEP and Keyserling using the $4,000 figure are discussed below.
Early in 1955, the Congressional Joint Committee on the Economic Report reconstituted its Subcommittee on Low-Income Families to do further studies of the problems of low-income families.(211) In October 1955, the SLIF issued a staff report containing material on low-income families to serve as background for the subcommittee's hearings.(212) The staff report implicitly rejected the Eisenhower CEA's figure of $1,000 in favor of the $2,000 low-income figure used in the 1949 SLIF staff report. After comparing the number of families with current-dollar incomes below $2,000 in 1948 and 1954, the report noted that "it must be remembered that $2,000 could purchase less in 1954 than 1948 because of the...increase...in consumers' prices," and presented further discussion and several tables using the figure of $2,000 in 1948 (constant) dollars.(213) (The report never gave the 1954 dollar equivalent of $2,000 in 1948 dollars. However, based on CPI figures available at the time(214), the 1954 dollar equivalent figure was probably $2,234.) This constituted an implicit choice that the low-income line should be fixed in constant dollars rather than in current dollars--the first time that that issue had been specifically addressed in Period II. In connection with the farm-nonfarm residence of families, the report stated, "As previously indicated, a given amount of cash income represents a different level of purchasing power for the farmer and for the city worker."(215) This seems to suggest implicit support for a continuation of the farm-nonfarm differential for families as given in the 1949 report--although there was no explicit statement that $1,000 should still be used for farm families. The only dollar figure mentioned in the brief section on unrelated individuals was $1,000(216)--the same figure implicitly set for this group in the 1949 report.
Early in 1957, a young economist named Gabriel Kolko published an article titled "The American 'Income Revolution'" in the journal Dissent(217) (described on its content page as "a quarterly of socialist opinion"). In the article, Kolko presented evidence to refute the common belief that there had been a significant redistribution of income in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Part of this evidence included an interesting updating of the concepts of the WPA maintenance and emergency budgets using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' City Worker's Family Budget. Since this updating was reproduced in large part in Kolko's much more well-known 1962 book, Wealth and Power in America, it is discussed below in connection with that book.
In May 1957, the Conference on Economic Progress published a study entitled Consumption[:] Key to Full Prosperity.... Staff work for the study was done by Mary Dublin Keyserling and Philip Ritz under the direction of Leon Keyserling. In a section on "Poverty-Ridden Consumers," the CEP set $4,000 as a "minimum adequate living standard" for families and $3,000 for unrelated individuals in 1955. (From the text and the charts, it seems fairly safe to take these figures as poverty lines, even though the study also briefly mentioned lower figures.) The $4,000 figure was the same poverty line that the CEP had used (with 1950 income data) in its July 1954 study, without any adjustment for the inflation that occurred between 1950 and 1955. (Further CEP use of the $4,000 figure is discussed below.) These poverty lines were applied to Commerce Department income data (presumably from the Office of Business Economics) that included not only money income but also some private nonmoney income. Since these data were not available by age of family head, the study used Census Bureau money income data for 1955 to provide figures on the aged poor, applying a poverty line of $3,000 to both aged families and aged unrelated individuals.(218)
Early in 1958, John Kenneth Galbraith published The Affluent Society. The book included a chapter on "The New Position of Poverty." In the opening paragraphs, Galbraith referred to American poverty as "an afterthought" and "a special case," but went on to write, "...poverty does survive." Later in his discussion, he asserted that "modern poverty...is not efficiently remedied by a general and tolerably well-distributed advance in income"--i.e., that poverty is resistant to the effects of economic growth. Concerning the definition of poverty, he wrote, "In part [poverty] is a physical matter....But...it is wrong to rest everything on absolutes. People are poverty-stricken when their income, even if adequate for survival, falls markedly behind that of the community. Then they cannot have what the larger community regards as the minimum necessary for decency; and they cannot wholly escape, therefore, the judgment of the larger community that they are indecent. They are degraded for, in the literal sense, they live outside the grades or categories which the community regards as acceptable." After writing these eloquent and perceptive words, Galbraith went on to give an empirical definition of poverty. He implicitly defined the poor as families (and unrelated individuals) with incomes below $1,000 in 1955, referring to this group as "[t]he hard core of the very poor."(219) (One cannot help but wonder whether his use of the $1,000 figure and the year 1955 was influenced by the use of the figure $1,000 in the 1955 Economic Report of the President.) After citing figures for families below $1,000 (in current dollars) in earlier years back to 1950, he did note that "prices were considerably lower" in 1950(220); however, like several of his contemporaries, he did not take the next step of going to a fixed-constant-dollar poverty line. Based on 1955 prices, the $1,000 figure would be equal to about $1,130 in 1962 dollars--38 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line of $3,000. In terms of poverty studies in general, Galbraith can be classed together with other writers of what I am calling Subperiod IIB; his work was one factor contributing to the increased interest in poverty during that (sub)period, even though some criticized him for underestimating the seriousness of the poverty problem. However, in terms of the characteristics of his poverty line specifically (low level, no separate figures by family size or for unrelated individuals, no adjustment for inflation), he must be classed in what I am calling Subperiod IIA.
The Census Bureau had run some special tabulations for the SLIF in 1949 and 1955, but throughout Period II there were of course no ongoing Census Bureau poverty tabulations, since there was no official or quasi-official government poverty line. However, in the Census Bureau's annual reports on money income based on the Current Population Survey, there was one small and subtle feature related to poverty lines which actually helps to mark the transition between what I am calling Subperiods IIA and IIB. The Census Bureau discussed some aspects of its annual findings about family income in terms of broad income classes. Going back as far as September 1948(221)--over a year before the first SLIF staff report--the lowest broad income class that was commonly used was families with incomes under $2,000--in current dollars. (There were also, however, some references to families with incomes under $1,000.) This use of under-$2,000 as the most common lowest income class continued into the late 1950's. In an April 1958 report(222), however, this began to change. The first two pages of this report continued to use the under-$2,000 income class, but the fourth page of the report had two references to families with incomes under $3,000. In an October 1959 report(223), the under-$3,000 income class was used on the first page. This transition period corresponds reasonably closely with the time when the majority of people citing dollar poverty lines stopped almost automatically using the SLIF $2,000 figure and began using higher figures, such as $3,000.(224) The transition is also marked by the characteristics of poverty lines: as discussed above, Galbraith's poverty line, in early 1958, is clearly a Subperiod IIA poverty line, while the next poverty line to be considered-- that of the AFL-CIO's Department of Research in February 1959--is a Subperiod IIB poverty line in that it is higher ($3,000 for families) and has separate figures for families and unrelated individuals.
In February 1959, in a discussion opposing sales taxes as a means of raising state and local revenues, the AFL-CIO's Department of Research refuted the contention that "there are no impoverished Americans any more" by citing the estimated number of persons in 1957 who were either members of families with incomes below $3,000 or unrelated individuals with incomes below $1,500.(225) The $3,000 figure was Walter Reuther's poverty line from November 1953 (see above), without any adjustment for the inflation that occurred between 1951 and 1957. The labor researchers set the line for unrelated individuals at half of that for families--the same ratio used by the 1949 SLIF. A somewhat expanded version of this information was incorporated into a resolution on "Aiding America's Lowest Income Families" at the September 1959 AFL-CIO Convention; the $3,000 and $1,500 figures were also expressed in weekly terms, and the numbers of families and unrelated individuals below them in 1957 were specified.(226) This expanded version of the information was used, in turn, by Senator Hubert Humphrey in a January 1960 speech to the West Virginia Legislature.(227) Based on 1957 prices, the AFL- CIO's $3,000 figure for families would be equal to about $3,210 in 1962 dollars--107 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line of $3,000.
In August 1960, the AFL-CIO's Department of Research applied their $3,000/$1,500 poverty line to 1958 income data without adjusting it for inflation. They found 41 1/2 million Americans to be in poverty on this basis.(228) These figures are the "AFL-CIO estimate" which was referred to--but not identified or cited by title--in the "Definitions" Appendix to Michael Harrington's The Other America.(229)
In July 1959, Michael Harrington published an article in Commentary on "Our Fifty Million Poor[:] Forgotten Men of the Affluent Society." (Note the gibe at Galbraith in the subtitle.) The article contained much of the material that Harrington would later expand into The Other America. To document his estimate of the number of poor, Harrington had to establish a poverty line. To do so, he first briefly discussed a 1952 pricing of the BLS CWFB in various cities (ranging between $3,812 and $4,454), someone's revision of the CWFB for September 1958 with a low for one city of $4,288, and a Heller Committee 1954 "adequate urban family budget" of $5,353. "On a less generous estimate, most authorities would agree that an urban family of four needs more than $3,500--probably $4,000--to subsist in 1959....Suppose, however, that we set the standard of adequacy still lower--at $3,000 a year." He applied the $3,000 figure to income data for 1957 and 1958.(230) (He did not give a separate figure for unrelated individuals.)
In late 1959, Robert Lampman, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, prepared a paper on the low- income population in connection with a Congressional Joint Economic Committee study of employment, growth, and price levels.(231) One source has stated that Lampman's paper was commissioned by Senator Paul Douglas [Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee] to "refut[e]" Galbraith because he "so much downplayed [poverty] as a problem."(232) More specifically, Lampman has stated that his paper was written in response to Galbraith's book, and that he thought that Galbraith was wrong in arguing that poverty is not reduced by economic growth.(233) In his paper, Lampman presented a low-income line that was essentially a revision of the 1949 SLIF's low-income line with adjustments for inflation and family size. For reasons that he did not explain(234), he started by applying the SLIF's $2,000 figure for (nonfarm) families to income data for 1947 rather than for 1948. (This had the effect of raising the level of the line by almost 8 percent in real terms.) He applied this figure to four-person families, and used a Bureau of Labor Statistics equivalence scale to develop figures for other family sizes. (This resulted in a low-income threshold for unrelated individuals that was slightly below the 1949 SLIF's $1,000.) He then updated these figures to 1957 using the Consumer Price Index.(235) (He later also updated them to 1963, as indicated below.) The resulting low-income lines were as follows(236):
1947 1957 1963
1 person $ 920 $1,157 $1,261 2 persons 1,302 1,638 1,785 3 persons 1,674 2,106 2,296 4 persons 2,000 2,516 2,742 5 persons 2,296 2,888 3,148 6 persons 2,572 3,236 3,527 7 or more persons NA 3,750 4,088
Lampman noted that his $2,516 figure for a family of four in 1957 was "well below the $4,000" level of the BLS CWFB, but "well above the budget levels used in determining need in public assistance programs in most States."(237) His low-income line for a family of four was $2,742 in 1963 dollars--88 percent of Mollie Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In 1960, Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration, in two publications that are almost unknown, developed her first measures of income inadequacy. She applied multipliers derived from the 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey to the cost of the Agriculture Department's low-cost food plan (at that time the cheapest of the USDA's three food plans) to develop two rough measures of income inadequacy for an elderly couple. She noted that one of these measures was approximately equal to the income level at which a couple (both 65 or over) taking only the standard deduction would begin paying federal income taxes. She briefly described her measures in unattributed material supplied for the record for an April 1960 Congressional hearing, and then mentioned one measure in a sentence in a December 1960 Research and Statistics note for which she did receive authorship credit.(238) The complete contrast between the fate of these 1960 items and the fate of her later work is an outstanding illustration of her own comment, "Apparently the right timing is as important as the right idea."(239)
In August 1960, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued an interim revision of its City Worker's Family Budget (CWFB) in an article in the Monthly Labor Review. From the title of the article, this interim revision became known as the Interim City Worker's Family Budget (ICWFB). BLS had discontinued pricing the original CWFB because it had been based on consumption patterns from 1934-1936 and 1941 surveys; the ICWFB was based primarily on consumption patterns from a 1950 survey. The cost of the goods and services in the ICWFB as of 1959 was about 40 percent higher than the corresponding cost for the CWFB as of 1951; more than half of this increase was due to improvements in the standard of living during this period, rather than simple price increases.(240) (Ornati put the ICWFB at his minimum comfort level--one level above the minimum adequacy level at which he had put the original CWFB.) As with the original CWFB, the ICWFB is mentioned here because of its indirect influence on poverty lines during this period.
In the latter part of 1960, Horst Brand published an article on poverty in the U.S. in the journal Dissent. He denied that the one fourth of the American people whom he estimated to be poor were suffering from either "case" poverty or "pockets" of poverty [presumably opposing Galbraith's position that American poverty was either "case" poverty or "insular" poverty]. "Poverty in the United States remains a general social problem, a consequence of the way our economy operates. For poverty to be eradicated, the structure of the economy would have to be substantially modified...." He began his discussion of income adequacy by noting that the cost of the CWFB in 34 cities averaged $4,163 in October 1951, and that this would have risen to about $4,600 in 1958 after adjustment for inflation. (His article had gone to press before BLS issued the ICWFB.) He then assumed that the subsistence needs of a family of four in 1958 could be covered by $3,000--"substantially below the BLS standard, although well ahead of what many public and private agencies consider as needed for subsistence." He used a BLS equivalence scale to develop figures for other family sizes, but rounded the results to the nearest $500, as shown below.(241)
1 person $1,500 2 persons 2,000 3 persons 2,500 4 persons 3,000 5 persons 3,500 6 persons 4,000 7 or more persons 4,500
The economy food plan was developed in 1961.(242) It was described as having been "developed for leaders to help homemakers who have very limited food budgets provide their families with nutritionally adequate diets."(243) To the best of my knowledge, the earliest contemporary published source mentioning the economy food plan is a November 1962 Agricultural Research Service report commonly known as Home Economics Research Report No. 20.(244) However, I have found an unpublished memorandum(245) indicating that the economy food plan was in existence as early as February 1961. While not providing a historical account of the development of the economy food plan, this memorandum stated (p. 2) that "The quantities of foods suggested for the Economy Plan have been rather arbitrarily set to achieve a nutritionally adequate diet at considerably lower cost than the Low-cost Plan."(246) Home Economics Research Report No. 20 stated (p. 25) that "The economy food plan....is essentially for emergency use," while a 1964 article on the food plans stated that the economy food plan was "designed for temporary or emergency use when funds are low."(247)
In February 1961 and May 1963, Lenore Epstein of the Social Security Administration published two articles in the Social Security Bulletin in which she briefly referred to the results of a tabulation of persons and families with "low incomes" in 1959 (based on Decennial Census data)--"low incomes" being defined as incomes below the levels at which families taking only the standard deduction would begin paying federal income taxes. These levels ("taxable limits") were $1,325 for a married couple or for a mother and child, $2,675 for a married couple with two children, and $4,000 for a family of six--a "very conservative definition of low income...."(248) At 1959 prices, the $2,675 figure for a married couple with two children would be equal to about $2,810 in 1963 dollars--90 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In March 1962, Selma Goldsmith of the Department of Commerce published an article(249) on low-income families and income inequality in the Review of Social Economy, the journal of the Catholic Economic Association. Concerning the problem of defining poverty, Goldsmith wrote, "I cannot claim to have made any progress whatsoever...and the following discussion focuses on...the income range under $3,000 in terms of...multi-person families, and under $2,000 for...unrelated individuals. These income points were chosen arbitrarily and are not to be taken as 'definitions' of poverty. Many large-size families require much more than $3,000...to meet minimum requirements and many unrelated individuals can 'manage' on less than $2,000. The two income points are used here merely to designate the broad income groups on which attention must be focused in a study of the low- income population." She applied these figures to income data for 1960.(250) In her comments on the paper, Alice Bourneuf wrote, in language strongly reminiscent of Father Ryan's 1906 book, A Living Wage, "We believe that every man has a right to earn a living wage, a wage which will enable him to provide medical care, decent housing, good food, and which will leave a margin for savings for old age and emergencies, and for the acquisition of property. Should not some of us start with the facts on low- income families and spending units and try to estimate whether they are able to lead a decent life in accordance with our standards of social justice?"(251)
In March(252) 1962, Michael Harrington published his landmark book, The Other America[:] Poverty in the United States. In his "Definitions" Appendix, Harrington briefly mentioned the 1949 SLIF's $2,000 low-income line, Lampman's low-income line of about $2,500 for a family of four, and an "AFL-CIO estimate" (which he did not further identify) using $3,000 for families and $1,500 for unrelated individuals.(253) He specifically criticized the idea of updating the $2,000 figure only for inflation and not to reflect the general increase in real incomes during the 1950's. He noted that the Lampman and AFL-CIO estimates were made in the context of assumptions that the cost of the BLS CWFB was just over $4,000 (Lampman) or $4,800 (AFL-CIO). However, when BLS released the revised ICWFB in 1960, its average cost was roughly $6,150, significantly higher than had been assumed. Harrington indicated that about half the cost of the revised BLS budget-- $3,000 to $3,500 for an urban family of four--would be a reasonable "standard for low income or poverty," with appropriate adjustments to be made for family size and for food produced and consumed on farms.(254)
In April 1962, the Conference on Economic Progress published a study on poverty and deprivation in the United States.(255) Keyserling and his associates began their discussion of income requirements for various levels of living by citing costs of the BLS "modest but adequate" Interim City Worker's Family Budget for 1959 for various family sizes; for a family of four, the cost (in 1960 dollars) averaged about $6,000. They set $4,000--two thirds of this average cost for a family of four--as the poverty level for families of all sizes, arguing that overall poverty figures would be about the same with such a poverty line as with a poverty line varying by family size. (Note that the $4,000 figure is the same figure--without any adjustment for inflation-- that the CEP had used as a family poverty line in its July 1954 and May 1957 studies discussed above.) They then said that families between this poverty line and $6,000 (the average ICWFB cost for a family of four) would be classed as living "in deprivation"--a "condition... quite distinguishable from...stark poverty, but [which] nonetheless means genuine denial of many of the goods and services which most Americans have come to regard as 'essentials,' and in most cases imposes a continuing sense of insecurity." They noted that the BLS budget studies set the requirement for unrelated individuals at levels that were somewhat under half of those for four-person families; accordingly, they set their poverty line for unrelated individuals at $2,000, and the "deprivation" line for this group at $3,000. These figures were applied to Office of Business Economics income data for 1960 which included not only money income but also some private nonmoney income. The authors noted Lampman's 1959 study setting a low-income line for a family of four at about $2,500 in 1957 dollars, but said, "Even allowing for price changes since 1957 and the addition of nonmoney income [implying that the inclusion of nonmoney income should raise the poverty line], [we] believe that the income boundaries which Lampman uses are much too low. Other studies [which they did not identify] since his tend to corroborate the income boundaries used here." The authors also identified income levels higher than "deprivation" (the "deprivation-comfort," "comfort-affluence," and "affluent or higher" levels) that covered the whole income distribution; theirs was one of the first studies since the 1930's to do so.(256)
In 1962 Gabriel Kolko published a book on the distribution of wealth, income, and power in the United States, challenging the popular belief that income inequality had been reduced since the 1920's to the extent that America had become a mass- consumption, almost classless society. As part of his case, he developed estimates of the proportion of Americans in poverty. He started with the WPA 1935 maintenance and emergency budgets, and went on to take the postwar BLS City Worker's Family Budget as representing a continuation of the maintenance budget, applying the term "maintenance" to it.(257),(258) He used the average cost of the CWFB for a family of four--$3,300 for 1947 and $4,166 for 1951 (the last year for which BLS repriced it)--as the figure for his "maintenance" level for a family of four for those years, and assumed that the corresponding figure for 1957 would be $4,500, roughly equal to the 1951 cost updated by the Consumer Price Index. Since the WPA emergency budget had been about 70 percent of the WPA maintenance budget, he calculated "emergency" levels at 70 percent of his "maintenance" levels--i.e., $3,150 for a family of four for 1957, and presumably $2,310 for 1947 and about $2,920 for 1951. He used a BLS equivalence scale to develop figures for other family sizes at each level. "Below the emergency standard of living, there clearly exists a state of poverty. Between the emergency and maintenance standards, there exists a shadowy area ranging from poverty to hard-pressed insecurity."(259) Kolko's "emergency" and "maintenance" standards were thus fairly close analogues of the Conference on Economic Progress' poverty and "deprivation" levels. His 1957 "emergency" (poverty) figure of $3,150 for a family of four would be equal to about $3,430 in 1963 dollars--110 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
In 1962, James Morgan, Martin David, Wilbur Cohen (subsequently a Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare), and Harvey Brazer published a book on income and poverty in the U.S. based on a survey of 2,800 families by the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center. To define poverty, the authors began with the October 1959 pricing of the Community Council of Greater New York's standard family budget, used by private agencies in that city to determine eligibility for assistance and free medical care. This budget varied by family size, by employment and family status of adults, and by age of children. For a family comprising an employed husband, a wife not working outside the home, and two children aged eight and eleven, the budget figure was $4,330. The authors defined "families with inadequate incomes" as those with incomes below 90 percent of the appropriate budget amount. (Thus the implicit inadequate-income line for the family just described would have been $3,897.) Families were defined as "poor" if they had inadequate incomes and also had less than $5,000 in liquid assets. The income data used, for 1959, included not only money income (after federal income taxes) but also various types of private and public nonmoney income.(260)
In July 1963, Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration published an article(261) in the Social Security Bulletin describing an initial version of her poverty thresholds--for families with children only. As Orshansky later indicated, her purpose in writing this article was not to introduce a new general measure of poverty; instead, she was trying to develop a measure to assess the differentials in opportunity among different demographic groups of families with children. The opening paragraphs of the article included two statements reflecting the concept now known as the income elasticity of the poverty line: "Creature comforts once the hallmark of luxury have descended to the realm of the commonplace, and the marvels of modern industry find their way into the home of the American worker as well as that of his boss....As the general level of living moves upward and expands beyond necessities, the standards of what constitutes an irreducible minimum also change." As in her January 1965 article, she actually described two sets of poverty thresholds, one derived from the Agriculture Department's low-cost food plan and one derived from the cheaper economy food plan. A table designated families and children as being "Poor by low-cost diet" and "Poor by economy diet." By having poverty-type lines at two different levels, Orshansky's article resembled the CEP's 1962 Poverty And Deprivation... study and Kolko's 1962 book. She did not present a table of poverty lines for different types of families, but did note that a married-couple, two-child, nonfarm family was poor by the low-cost diet if its 1961 income was below $3,955, and poor by the economy diet if its income was below $3,165.(262) Her higher measure was roughly ten percent below Ornati's minimum adequacy level (presented in a book published several years after her article), and her lower measure was close to twenty percent above Ornati's minimum subsistence level.
Orshansky presented the low-cost-food-plan-based poverty thresholds first in her July 1963 article. Besides presenting the economy-food-plan-based thresholds second, she introduced them with the dismissive adverb "Even." Similarly, in her table presenting poverty figures, the column heading "Poor by low-cost diet" came before "Poor by economy diet." These facts suggest that the thresholds based on the low-cost food plan may well have been the poverty measure that she preferred. After the original version of the present paper was completed, Orshansky confirmed this inference (personal communication, August 23, 1994), stating that the thresholds based on the low-cost food plan were indeed her preferred version of the poverty measure. (Similar sentiments can be detected "under the surface" in comments that she made in a 1969 article: "At the Social Security Administration, we decided that we would develop two measures of need....It was not the Social Security Administration that labeled [one of these] the poverty line. It remained for the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Council of Economic Advisers to select the lower of the two measures and decide they would use it as the working tool....It is interesting that few outside the Social Security Administration ever wanted to talk about the higher measure." And note that in a May 1964 memorandum, Orshansky described the low-cost-food-plan-based poverty measure as "probably more realistic" than the economy- food-plan-based poverty measure.)(263)
In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson announced a War on Poverty. In connection with this announcement, the 1964 Report of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) contained a chapter on "The Problem of Poverty in America."(264) The chapter set a poverty line of $3,000 (in 1962 dollars) for families of all sizes; for unrelated individuals, the chapter implicitly set a poverty line of $1,500 (a selection which was shortly made explicit). "Refined analysis would vary the income cut-off by family size, age, location, and other indicators of needs and costs. This has not been possible." The $3,000 figure was specified as applying to before-tax annual money income. There was a brief discussion of the theoretical desirability of using estimates of "total incomes--including nonmoney elements....such...as the rental value of owner-occupied dwellings and food raised and consumed on farms...", but it was not possible to obtain such estimates. "Of course, the total of money plus nonmoney income that would correspond to the limit [the poverty line of $3,000 in money income] used here would be somewhat higher than $3,000."(265) Since the CEA had chosen the $3,000 and $1,500 figures, they were the federal government's (quasi-)official poverty lines for a little over a year, until replaced by the Orshansky poverty thresholds.
The CEA chapter had begun its discussion of a poverty line by stating that American "society does not have a clear and unvarying concept of an acceptable minimum [income standard]....But for our society today a consensus on an approximate standard can be found. One such standard is suggested by a recent study, described in a publication of the Social Security Administration, which defines a 'low-cost' budget for a nonfarm family of four [as] $3,955. The cost of...an 'economy-plan' budget was $3,165. Other studies have used different market baskets [sic], many of them costing more. On balance, they provide support for using" a $3,000 poverty line for families. Since the "recent study" was Mollie Orshansky's July 1963 "Children of the Poor" article, people who have read this passage often think that it means that the CEA's $3,000 family poverty line was derived to a greater or lesser degree from Orshansky's $3,165 (economy-food-plan-based) poverty line. However, several printed sources note that Robert Lampman (the author of the 1959 study paper for the Joint Economic Committee and by this time a member of the Council of Economic Advisers' staff) had been working on an analysis of poverty using the $3,000 figure as early as the spring of 1963, providing data to CEA Chairman Walter Heller for a memorandum to President Kennedy dated May 1, 1963. Since Orshansky's "Children of the Poor" was not published until July 1963, it could not have been the basis for Lampman's selection of the $3,000 figure.(266)
Lampman (personal communications, September 10, 1987, and October 30, 1993) provided the following specific information about the development of the CEA's $3,000 poverty line in a 1987 telephone conversation and a 1993 interview with the author. (Lampman was the primary author of the CEA report's poverty chapter.(267) He had been brought on to the CEA staff because of his 1959 paper on the low income population(268) [which is discussed on pp. 47-48 above].)
The CEA's $3,000 family poverty line was 19 percent higher in real terms than the 1949 SLIF's $2,000 family low-income line. Lampman must have realized this, since he had become familiar with the 1949 SLIF's low-income lines while doing his 1959 study for the Joint Economic Committee. In addition, at least two other analysts at the time explicitly noted that the CEA $3,000 figure was higher in real terms than the 1949 SLIF $2,000 figure.(273) However, in all the material on poverty definition and measurement from this period that I have read, I have never found any record of someone objecting to the adoption of the CEA poverty lines on the grounds that poverty is absolute, that a satisfactory estimate of minimum absolute needs had been developed fifteen years ago, and that it would be wrong and/or confusing to adopt a new poverty line that was higher in real terms than the SLIF figure. Similarly, Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four was 14 percent higher in real terms than Lampman's low-income line of $2,516 (in 1957 dollars) for a family of four from his 1959 study. Lampman and a number of other people must have been aware of this, since Lampman included a version of his low-income lines expressed in 1963 dollars in a paper that he presented at the West Virginia University Conference on Poverty amid Affluence in May 1965.(274) But I have never found any record of someone objecting to the adoption of the Orshansky poverty thresholds in place of the Lampman low-income lines on the grounds that I have just outlined. The difference between this 1964-1965 situation and the situation in 1968-1969 (when the federal government decided not to adopt poverty lines that were higher in real terms(275)) was not any change in the general merits of the case; it was that in 1968-1969, a (quasi-)official federal poverty line was in place, and a government agency was issuing annual estimates of poverty on the basis of that (quasi-)official poverty line.
In March 1964, in testimony in support of the proposed Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives, Walter Heller, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, presented a refinement of the CEA's $3,000/$1,500 poverty line. He noted, "To refine the figures to take some account of differing needs, one can vary the income standard according to size of family....us[ing] $3,000 for a family of four, but add[ing] or subtract[ing] $500 per person for larger or smaller families." The result was as shown below:
1 person $1,500 2 persons 2,000 3 persons 2,500 4 persons 3,000 5 persons 3,500 6 or more persons 4,000
These figures were applied to income data for 1962. (In constant dollars, these figures are essentially equal to Orshansky's 1963 nonfarm poverty thresholds.) Heller implied disagreement with those (presumably referring to Orshansky) who would use separate poverty lines for farm families.(276) These figures were used as a poverty line by the Office of Economic Opportunity during its initial months, before it adopted Orshansky's poverty thresholds in May 1965.(277)
In December 1964, the Conference on Economic Progress published a study on poverty by Leon Keyserling. In this study, Keyserling accepted the "very conservative" CEA $3,000/$1,500 poverty line. He implicitly criticized these figures as being far below the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "modest but adequate" Interim City Worker's Family Budget for 1959, which averaged about $6,000 for [four-person] families and about $2,750 for unattached individuals. He applied the CEA poverty lines (converted to 1963 dollars) to Census Bureau money income data for 1963--the most recent data available. He noted that the CEP's 1962 study had applied higher poverty lines ($4,000 and $2,000) to Office of Business Economics data which included not only money income but also some private nonmoney income, while the present study applied lower figures to money income data only; "...the two different sets of data result in approximately the same number of people living in poverty, and approximately the same people." Keyserling also identified "deprivation" and higher income levels in this study, just as he and his associates had done in the CEP's 1962 study; he set most of the dividing lines somewhat lower to match the lower CEA poverty lines that he was using. The "deprivation" level extended from the poverty line to $4,999 for families and to $2,499 for unrelated individuals.(278)
When Mollie Orshansky had seen the January 1964 Council of Economic Advisers report (with its reference to the results of her July 1963 article), she had been disturbed by the CEA's failure to vary its $3,000 family poverty line by family size. This failure resulted in counting too many small families and too few large families as poor. "Inevitably this led to an understatement of the number of children in poverty relative to aged persons." It was concern over this inequity that led Orshansky to further work that resulted in her publishing another article(279) in the Social Security Bulletin, in the January 1965 issue. (The subtitle of this article, "Another Look at the Poverty Profile," may imply a contrast with the CEA's January 1964 chapter as a first look at the poverty profile.) This article presented an analysis using a refined and extended version of the poverty thresholds that she had described in her July 1963 article. Thresholds were provided for families with and without children and for unrelated individuals, all derived by the same methodology described in the earlier article. As in that article, not one but two sets of thresholds were presented, one derived from the Agriculture Department's economy food plan and the other from the somewhat less stringent low-cost food plan. In the opening pages of this article, Orshansky first mentioned the poverty lines based on the economy food plan and then mentioned those based on the low-cost food plan (reversing the order of presentation in her July 1963 article). She generally distinguished the two sets of poverty lines by means of the phrases "the economy level" and "the low-cost level." When she used the term "poor" without further qualification, she was generally referring to poverty at the economy level. A statement on the first page of the article provided a context for the overall analysis: "...if it is not possible to state unequivocally 'how much is enough,' it should be possible to assert with confidence how much, on an average, is too little." (In other words, the poverty thresholds were a measure of income inadequacy, not of income adequacy.) A table on the next-to-last page of the article presented the poverty thresholds for 1963 for families of various types; the overall weighted average figures for nonfarm families of four persons were $3,130 for poverty "at [the] economy level" and $4,005 for poverty "at [the] low-cost level." (Figures in this table were rounded to the nearest $5; later tables show that the exact value for the first figure was $3,128.) Orshansky's 1963 weighted average nonfarm poverty thresholds at the economy level and at the low-cost level are given in the table below; the unrounded values of the poverty thresholds have been supplied from later tables, while the (rounded) values of the near-poverty thresholds are from her original table.(280)
Poverty thresholds at Poverty thresholds low-cost level Size of at economy level [near-poverty/low-income family unit [poverty thresholds] thresholds] 1 person $1,539 NA (under age 65) 1,581 $1,885 (aged 65 or over) 1,470 1,745 2 persons 1,988 NA (head under 65) 2,052 2,715 (head 65 or over) 1,850 2,460 3 persons 2,442 3,160 4 persons 3,128 4,005 5 persons 3,685 4,675 6 persons 4,135 5,250 7 or more persons 5,092 6,395
In February 1965, the American Enterprise Institute published a pamphlet by Rose Friedman on defining poverty. Friedman criticized the CEA poverty definition for several reasons, including its failure to provide separate poverty lines for different family sizes, and also criticized the poverty thresholds described in Orshansky's July 1963 article, the results of which the CEA had referred to in its January 1964 report. (Presumably Friedman's pamphlet had already gone to press by the time Orshansky's January 1965 article appeared.) Inasmuch as Orshansky's July 1963 article had not presented her rationale for using a normative multiplier based on the consumption patterns of families at all income levels, Friedman disagreed with Orshansky's normative-multiplier procedure. Friedman proposed instead that the poverty line for a given household size be set at the income level at which three-fourths of the households of that size met two-thirds of the National Research Council's Recommended Daily Allowances.(281),(282) (This definition implicitly assumed that adequate levels of consumption in other areas--e.g., clothing, housing--would be achieved at the same income level at which her definition of "nutritive adequacy" would be achieved.) Approximating these income levels from data from the 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey and updating the results to 1962 prices by the Consumer Price Index, she came up with the poverty lines shown below for various household sizes. (She did not give a poverty line for unrelated individuals.)(283)
2 persons $1,295
3 persons $1,785
4 persons $2,195
5 persons $2,550
6 persons $2,855
7 or more persons $3,155
At 1962 prices, Friedman's figure of $2,195 for a four-person household would be equal to about $2,220 in 1963 dollars--71 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four. Friedman's poverty lines must be taken as an effort to push the poverty line down below the Johnson CEA's $3,000 figure. Friedman's four-person figure (about $2,220 in 1963 dollars) was 13 percent lower than the 1949 SLIF's low-income line for all family sizes (about $2,540 in 1963 dollars). If we shift to five-person units to make comparisons with earlier periods easier, we find that Friedman's figure for a five-person household (about $2,580 in 1963 dollars) was roughly equal to the top of Dorothy Douglas' 1923 minimum of subsistence range for a five-person family (about $2,510 in 1963 dollars).
It is interesting to note that despite her effort to push down the level of the poverty line, Friedman accepted the principle of the income elasticity of the poverty line, as indicated in the following quotation from her pamphlet: "If the trend in growth of real income of the past 35 years were to continue....one of its manifestations will be a rise in what is regarded as the standard of poverty....All groups will continue to share in economic progress and the people then [at the end of the twentieth century] labeled poor will have a higher standard of living than many labeled not poor today."(284)
In the spring of 1965, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States published a report on poverty that included a paper by Victor Fuchs entitled "Toward a Theory of Poverty."(285) Fuchs' paper was the first paper in the United States to propose a relative (half-of-median-income) definition of poverty(286); he discussed this definition of poverty further in two later papers.(287) Opening his discussion of problems of defining poverty, he wrote, "Ever since poverty has been an object of study and a focus for policy, there have been attempts to set absolute standards to identify the poor. The fact that these standards have varied enormously with time and place indicates that the search for an absolute standard is like the pursuit of a will-o'-the-wisp." After giving a brief example of the elasticity of the poverty line over time, he continued, "It would appear that attempts to define poverty in absolute terms are doomed to failure because they run contrary to man's nature as a social animal....As our nation prospers, our judgment as to what constitutes an 'insufficiency' of goods and services will inevitably change. Today's comfort or convenience is yesterday's luxury and tomorrow's necessity. In a dynamic democratic society how could it be otherwise? The foregoing discussion suggests that a meaningful definition of poverty can best be found by setting relative standards." He went on to define a poor family as one with an income below half the median family income.(288) He made no adjustment for family size (although in a later paper he wrote, "...in implementing such a measure it would be possible and probably desirable to modify the national standard to take account of family size and composition, place of residence, and other relevant variables"(289)). In current dollars, his relative poverty line for families would have been $1,594 for 1948 (compared with the 1949 SLIF's $2,000 for nonfarm families in 1948 dollars), $2,486 for 1957 (compared with Lampman's $2,516 for a family of four in 1957 dollars), $3,124 for 1963 (compared with Orshansky's 1963 weighted average poverty threshold of $3,128 for a nonfarm family of four), and $6,026 for 1973 (compared with a weighted average threshold of $4,540 for a nonfarm family of four). Although it is not used widely, his definition of poverty is perhaps the only non-Orshansky definition to retain even limited currency in the U.S. during the post-1965 period.
In May 1965, the Office of Economic Opportunity adopted the lower of Mollie Orshansky's two sets of poverty thresholds (the set based on the economy food plan) as a working definition of poverty for statistical, planning, and budget purposes.(290) This marked the end of the pre-Orshansky era in U.S. poverty definition and measurement.
On the basis of this overview of (unofficial) American poverty lines from 1904 to 1965, I have arrived at the following preliminary conclusions:
1. Over time, there is no such thing as an "absolute" poverty line.(291) Instead, successive poverty lines developed as absolute poverty lines show a pattern of rising in real terms over time as the real income of the general population rises. This has already been demonstrated by Kilpatrick, Rainwater, Leveson, and others using the evidence of the standard budgets assembled by Ornati, and by Appelbaum independently using evidence from aspects of standard budgets. (See footnote 54. A number of these analysts used evidence from the post-World-War-II Gallup poll "get-along" question in addition to evidence from standard budgets.) The findings in this paper--since they add "derivative" poverty lines, early informal estimates, and several standard budgets to the budgets assembled by Ornati--provide further evidence supporting the earlier findings. It is important to note that the budgets and poverty lines under discussion were all conceptually derived as "absolute" poverty lines, without any reference to the income distribution as a whole. Yet over time, such "absolute" poverty lines rose in real terms as the income of the general population rose. Poverty lines and minimum subsistence budgets before World War I were, in constant dollars, generally in the range of 43 percent to 54 percent of Orshansky's poverty threshold. By 1923, Dorothy Douglas' "minimum of subsistence level" (expressed as a range rather than a single dollar figure) was equal to 53 percent to 68 percent of Orshansky's threshold, while Margaret Stecker's emergency budget for 1935 was equal to 65 percent of Orshansky's poverty threshold. The 1949 SLIF's family low-income line was equal to 84 percent of the Johnson CEA's family poverty line, while Lampman's low-income line for 1957 was equal to 88 percent of Orshansky's poverty threshold.(292)
Looking at the question from another direction, we find that the five budgets or other estimates during the 1901-1929 period that were approximately equal to Orshansky's poverty threshold in real terms were all at the minimum comfort level--two levels above minimum subsistence in Ornati's classification. In 1944, however, a budget (the TWUA budget) essentially equal to Orshansky's poverty threshold in constant dollars was at Ornati's minimum adequacy level--only one level above minimum subsistence. And by 1960--its last year--Ornati's series of minimum subsistence dollar figures had almost reached the level of Orshansky's threshold in real terms.
Another significant set of evidence--generally not discussed in previous income elasticity literature--is the fact that before 1960, over a dozen analysts (all but six omitted above for reasons of space) had recognized and put into words the basic concept of the income elasticity of the poverty line. (The ones I have listed above are Ryan in 1902, Mitchell in 1903, Lauck/Sydenstricker in 1917, Ogburn in 1919, Stecker in 1937, and Daugherty in 1938. For the others, as well as for analysts with similar comments during the 1960's, see Fisher, "Is There Such a Thing as an Absolute Poverty Line...", pp. 16-27.)
In a 1963 lecture at Brandeis University, British poverty researcher Peter Townsend stated that "The standard [of poverty] has to be changed from one decade to the next, rather as it is beginning to be accepted that the basis of the retail price index [the British equivalent of the U.S. Consumer Price Index] has to be changed from one decade to the next."(293) Similarly, the 1973 federal interagency Subcommittee on Updating the Poverty Threshold recommended that the poverty threshold be revised every ten years.(294) In view of the findings in this paper, these recommendations are quite appropriate; any poverty line which remains unchanged in real terms for more than ten or fifteen years is likely to become no longer socially meaningful.
2. Atwater-style hypothetical food budgets are an unsatisfactory means of determining the level of food expenditures that a real, living family needs to have a nutritionally adequate diet. As I read material about the food components of various standard budgets--Arthur Holder's in 1916, the Dallas "lowest bare existence" budget in 1917, Rowntree's primary poverty line in York, England, in 1901, and others including some not mentioned above because of space--I began to realize that there was a pattern here that went far beyond one food plan developed by one office in 1961. Lower-income homemakers were consistently being expected to show a skill in food buying that would have actually been greater than that of most middle-class homemakers--and were being stigmatized as "ignorant" and having "poor buying habits" when they failed to exhibit such impossible talents. Scott Nearing's trenchant analysis was correct: any "super-woman" who could live up to the expectations of such budgets would not have to be subjected to them in the first place, as she would already be earning almost twice the poverty level in private industry. And the sad irony was that many of the persons developing these food budgets were not Scrooges but were persons with a deep concern for social justice and the poor--e.g., Rowntree and the Worcesters. It was only when I read Aronson's analyses that I found that the tradition of American nutrition research began in an effort (under Atwater) to purport to offer the poor a higher standard of living while protecting employers from having to offer any increase in wages. It also became clear that Atwater's tradition fit in strongly with existing strongly held cultural attitudes about the poor, with the result that even strong advocates of social justice found themselves forced to put forward inadequate food budgets for fear of being adjudged "too generous." A much more realistic method for arriving at the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet was that followed by Chapin, the 1948 City Worker's Family Budget, and (to some extent) by More and Byington: to analyze the actual food consumption patterns of real families to find the point at which they achieved adequate diets, thus resulting (in the words of the CWFB) in "a grouping of foods in the way that families with satisfactory diets actually buy them."
3. Poverty lines have usually been developed by advocates of the disadvantaged rather than by theoretical social scientists elucidating abstract concepts about minimum consumption. There are, of course, exceptions to this generalization, but time and again one finds someone developing a poverty line or standard budget because s/he was indignant about some social injustice and wanted to do something about it (hoping that more factual, quantitative knowledge would help in combating the injustice). A number of budgeters were indignant about industrialists conspicuously consuming luxuries while paying workers "starvation wages." The New York State Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1902 was investigating harsh working conditions among immigrant adults and children doing piecework at home in often windowless tenements. Robert Hunter wanted to demonstrate the existence of significant poverty in a country that prided itself on its wealth, to make clear the evils of poverty, and to propose actions that society might take to remedy some of these problems. The Worcesters were angry about six-year-old children being forced to labor in cotton mills and about the brutal working conditions in those mills. Arthur Holder in 1916 wanted to institute a minimum wage for government employees who were sometimes forced to resort to charity to make ends meet. Lauck and Sydenstricker in 1917 cited the results of studies by Children's Bureau employees whose motivation was to find ways of reducing shockingly high infant mortality rates among low-income working-class families. The Depression-era Committee on the Costs of Medical Care was concerned that too many Americans had trouble paying for needed medical care, and wanted to find remedies for that problem. The 1949 Subcommittee on Low-Income Families was appointed out of concern for low-income families who were unable to pay market-level rents for housing and who were suffering the ravages of the severe post-war inflation. While Leon Keyserling was an economist, he and his associates at the Conference on Economic Progress were acting not from theoretical concerns but as advocates of increased public spending to stimulate full employment and to meet important domestic social needs. And Mollie Orshansky's original motivation was not to develop a theoretically better poverty measure but to assess differentials of opportunity among different groups of families with children (in hopes of ultimately finding ways of reducing those differentials).
One specific exception to this generalization about the role of advocates is that some poverty lines or budgets were put forward by people whom one might call anti-advocates, since their goal was to push the level of the poverty line (or budget) below a currently accepted level. Examples include the National Industrial Conference Board in 1944 (reacting to the Textile Workers Union of America's revision of the emergency budget), the Council of Economic Advisers in 1954 and 1955, and Rose Friedman in 1965. (Presciently, Robert Lampman in 1965 described another way in which such persons might operate: instead of proposing a lower dollar figure, they might change the definition of income used.)
4. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of the period that I am examining here, a noticeable proportion of the persons involved in developing poverty lines (and standard budgets generally) have been women. The noticeable proportion of women developing poverty lines and standard budgets contrasts strongly with the situation in a number of traditional professions, in which almost all of the personnel were male for much of this period.(295) During the Progressive Era, when social work was the main profession developing standard budgets and women were playing an essentially equal role in social work, one finds the names of Isabel Eaton, Caroline Goodyear, Louise Bolard More, Margaret Byington, Daisy Lee Worthington Worcester, and Winifred Gibbs; home economists included Mary Gearing and Joan Hamilton working on the 1917 Dallas budgets. During the interwar years, one encounters the names of Esther Little, Sadie Tanner Mossell, Dorothy Douglas, and Margaret Stecker; home economists included Hazel Stiebeling, Hazel Munsell, Miriam Birdseye, and Medora Ward working on USDA food plans. During the post- World-War-II period, one finds the names of Eleanor Snyder, Mary Dublin Keyserling, Lenore Epstein, Selma Goldsmith, and, of course, Mollie Orshansky; BLS employees working on family budgets included Dorothy Brady, Helen Lamale, and Margaret Stotz, and home economists working on food plans included Eloise Cofer, Evelyn Grossman, Faith Clark, and Betty Peterkin.
5. (Macro)economists did not get involved in poverty line studies in large numbers--and poverty studies did not become a distinct field as such--before the beginning of the War on Poverty in 1964. As noted earlier, during the Progressive Era, poverty line and standard budget studies were dominated by social workers; employees of state bureaus of labor statistics also played a role, while labor union representatives were active in the field both during and after the Progressive Era. The role of home economists has also been mentioned. Some economists certainly did participate in poverty line and related studies (going back as far as Robert Chapin in 1907-1909), but they were only one of several elements in the mix. Relatively little of the "literature" I have tracked down is found in traditional economic publications; instead, as noted earlier, it is scattered across a number of areas, such as early social work journals, labor union literature, state bureau of labor statistics reports, various federal government publications, advocacy publications, liberal and radical journals, and books on such hybrid subjects as "the economics of consumption" and "the economics of the household."
1. To the writer's knowledge, the first use of the term "poverty threshold" was by Mollie Orshansky in a paper presented on May 24, 1965, at the annual meeting of the National Conference on Social Welfare; see Mollie Orshansky, "Measuring Poverty," p. 214 in The Social Welfare Forum, 1965[.] Official Proceedings, 92d Annual Forum[,] National Conference on Social Welfare...May 23-25, 1965, New York, Columbia University Press, 1965. (For the exact date of the paper's presentation, see p. 258.) Accordingly, the term "poverty line(s)" will be used in this paper for pre-Orshansky measures of poverty.
2. Relatively few people have written about the history of pre-1965 American poverty lines. Perhaps the most detailed published account is Sidney E. Zimbalist, "The Measurement of Poverty," Chapter 4 in his Historic Themes and Landmarks in Social Welfare Research, New York, Harper & Row, 1977; he focuses in particular on the Progressive Era, as well as discussing British poverty studies from 1886 to 1941. For valuable and insightful analysis relating studies of nutrition, poverty lines, and family budgets to interests in the broader socioeconomic setting during the 1885-1920 period, see Naomi Aronson, "The Making of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Family Budget Series: Relativism and the Rhetoric of Subsistence" (June 1984 version of a paper presented at the American Sociological Association Meetings, San Antonio, August 1984).
3. Judith Eleanor Innes, Knowledge and Public Policy[:] The Search for Meaningful Indicators, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Transaction Publishers, 1990, p. 138; and Mollie Orshansky, "Family Budgets and Fee Schedules of Voluntary Agencies," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 4, April 1959, p. 10.
4. For the latter subject, see, for instance, "Budget studies of single women," pp. 156-157 in Benjamin R. Andrews, Economics of the Household[:] Its Administration and Finance (revised edition), New York, Macmillan, 1935.
5. For the latter subject, see, for instance, Faith M. Williams, "Studies of Farm Family Living," pp. 10-12 in Faith M. Williams and Carle C. Zimmerman, Studies of Family Living in the United States and Other Countries: An Analysis of Material and Method (U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 223), Washington, D.C., December 1935.
6. Innes, pp. 64-65; Williams and Zimmerman, pp. 18-24; and George J. Stigler, "The Early History of Empirical Studies of Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 62, No. 2, April 1954, p. 96.
7. Innes, p. 67; Williams and Zimmerman, pp. 18-19; and Stigler, pp. 98-99.
8. Carle C. Zimmerman, "Ernst Engel's Law of Expenditures for Food," Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 47, No. 1, November 1932, p. 80.
9. Otto Wayand, The Measurement of Poverty (Memorandum 19 - Social Security Series), Social Security Research Division, Research and Statistics Directorate, Department of National Health and Welfare, Canada, 1969, pp. 17, 20, and 21.
10. For examples of Booth's influence on American studies, see W.E.B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro[:] A Social Study, New York, Schocken Books, 1967 [original edition published in 1899], pp. 171-172, 314 (footnote 17), 430, and the unpaginated maps between pp. 60 and 61; Robert Hunter, Poverty, New York, Macmillan, 1904, pp. vi, 14-15, 17-19, and 330; William D.P. Bliss and Rudolph M. Binder (editors), The New Encyclopedia of Social Reform..., New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1908, pp. 933-934 (article on Poverty); Robert H. Bremner, From the Depths[:] The Discovery of Poverty in the United States, New York, New York University Press, 1956, p. 71; and Allen F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform[:] The Social Settlements and the Progressive Movement 1890-1914, New York, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp. 171-172.
11. For examples of Rowntree's influence on American studies, see Philip W. Ayres, "The Standard of Living," Charities, Vol. 9, No. 10, September 6, 1902, pp. 217-219; Hunter, Poverty, pp. 9-10, 18-19, and 56-58; Daisy Lee Worthington Worcester, Grim the Battles[--]A Semi-Autobiographical Account of the War Against Want in the United States During the First Half of the Twentieth Century, New York, Exposition Press, 1954, p. 67; Paul H. Douglas, Curtice N. Hitchcock, and Willard E. Atkins, The Worker in Modern Economic Society, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1923, pp. 275-277, 283, and 317; and Edgar Sydenstricker, Willford I. King, and Dorothy Wiehl, "The Income Cycle in the Life of the Wage-Earner," Public Health Reports, Vol. 39, No. 34, August 22, 1924, pp. 2133-2140.
12. T[homas] S. Simey and M[argaret] B. Simey, Charles Booth[,] Social Scientist [original edition published in 1960], Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1980, pp. 88 and 184. For a bibliographic summary of the three editions of the Life and Labour... series, see Simey and Simey, pp. ix-x and 271. Booth's earliest results on poverty were published in two papers in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society in 1887 and 1888.
13. Simey and Simey, pp. 95, 184, 187, and 278-279. See also H[ubert] Llewellyn-Smith, "The New Survey of London Life and Labour," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 92, Part 4, 1929, p. 532; and Paul Spicker, "Charles Booth: the examination of poverty," Social Policy & Administration, Vol. 24, No. 1, April/May 1990, pp. 21-38.
14. Charles Booth et al., Labour and Life of the People. Volume I: East London., London, Williams and Norgate, 1889, p. 33. (The series title used for this edition varied slightly from the one used later.)
15. Before British currency was decimalized in 1971, 12 pence equalled one shilling, and 20 shillings equalled one pound sterling (commonly referred to as one pound). Weekly income figures were converted to annual income figures here on the basis of a year of 52 weeks. (A year of 52 weeks seems to have been the conventional conversion factor used in several roughly contemporary American budget studies; to use a year of 52 1/7 weeks--since 365 days equal 52 1/7 weeks--would represent greater precision than is called for in this context.) British pounds were converted to U.S. dollars at the then-official exchange rate of $4.8665 to 1 pound sterling.
16. Rowntree's poverty concepts were also more complicated than they were generally understood to be. For what is probably the definitive explanation of his poverty concepts, see J[ohn] H. Veit-Wilson, "Paradigms of Poverty: A Rehabilitation of B.S. Rowntree," Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 15, Part 1, January 1986, pp. 69-99.
17. B. Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty[:] A Study of Town Life, London, Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1901, pp. 86-88 and 115-117.
18. Rowntree, Poverty[:] A Study..., pp. 89-94, 96-103, and 106. Rowntree later wrote concerning this diet, which "was more economical and less attractive than was given to paupers in workhouses," that "I purposely selected such a dietary so that no one could possibly accuse me of placing my subsistence level too high"--Rowntree, Poverty and Progress[:] A Second Social Survey of York, London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1942, p. 102. Clearly, then, his diet reflected not his personal inclinations but a concession he felt compelled to make to a contemporary cultural attitude-- common among middle-class and upper-class people in both Britain and the United States--that society should take a very stringent view of the needs and requirements of the poor.
19. Rowntree, Poverty[:] A Study..., pp. 133-134.
20. Rowntree, Poverty[:] A Study..., p. 110. The precise poverty line figures used for individual families generally varied somewhat from these averages because of the treatment of rent; see p. 110, footnote 1.
21. Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order[:] 1877-1920, New York, Hill and Wang, 1967, pp. 2, 8, 10, 12-14, 19, 23-25, 38, 41, 66-69, and 78; Bremner, pp. 3-4, 10, 12, and 14-15; Naomi Aronson, Fuel for the Human Machine: The Industrialization of Eating in America (Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University, September 1978), pp. 9-11 and 13-14; Raymond A. Mohl, "The Abolition of Public Outdoor Relief, 1870-1900: A Critique of the Piven and Cloward Thesis," pp. 36-38 in Walter I. Trattner (editor), Social Welfare or Social Control? Some Historical Reflections on Regulating the Poor, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1983; and Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism[,] 1865-1915, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1940, pp. 11, 27, and 100. (The 1893 quotation is from Charles Richmond Henderson, An Introduction to the Study of the Dependent, Defective and Delinquent Classes, Boston, D.C. Heath and Company, 1893, p. 236.)
22. Bremner, pp. 55-56, 64, 71-74, and 82-83; and Hopkins, pp. 257-259, 264-268, and 270.
23. Innes, pp. 64-65 and 73-74; and Williams and Zimmerman, pp. 7-10.
24. Innes, pp. 74-77; and Daniel Horowitz, The Morality of Spending[:] Attitudes toward the Consumer Society in America, 1875-1940, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 13.
25. James Leiby, Carroll Wright and Labor Reform: The Origin of Labor Statistics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1960, pp. 62-63, 79, 100-101, 205, and 207-209; Innes, pp. 74-77; and Horowitz, pp. 17 and 19. In practice, however, as these sources indicate, Wright's studies contained and were affected by (often unspoken) value assumptions.
26. "Part IV. Condition of Workingmen's Families," in Sixth Annual Report of the [Massachusetts] Bureau of Statistics of Labor. March, 1875., Boston, Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1875.
27. Carle C. Zimmerman, "Ernst Engel's Law of Expenditures for Food," Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 47, No. 1, November 1932, pp. 78-79.
28. The references to families with incomes under $600 going into debt are on pp. 380 and 447 of the Sixth Annual Report..., while the reference to such families being "in debt and poverty" is on p. 446.
29. Sixth Annual Report..., p. 447 [emphasis in original].
30. Fifteenth Annual Report of the [Massachusetts] Bureau of Statistics of Labor. July, 1884., Boston, Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers, 1884, p. 439 [emphasis in original].
31. Wright was criticized by a mid-twentieth-century woman economist because he "did not pursue the problems of the workers' standard of living...because apparently he came under the spell of the notion of stable 'laws' in the economic and social behavior of human beings....Wright and his followers bec[a]me absorbed in testing the universal validity of the 'laws' associated with the name of [Ernst] Engel..."--Dorothy S. Brady, "Scales of Living and Wage Earners' Budgets," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 274, March 1951, p. 33.
32. Joseph Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Labor, With Preludes on Current Events., Boston, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1880, pp. 199, 203, 208 (the source of the quotation), and 229-240; and Hopkins, pp. 39-42.
33. Joseph Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Conscience, With Preludes on Current Events., Boston, Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1879, pp. 5-6 (the source of the quotation), 8-9, and 39-40; and Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Labor..., pp. 203, 227-230, and 241.
34. Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Labor..., p. 203. On p. 202, he indicated that he was thinking of "necessary expenses...of an American citizen educating sons [sic] to become a part of our popular sovereignty under universal suffrage"--a standard that is intriguingly different from "merely physical efficiency." [Compare the fact that a 1940 White House conference was called the White House Conference on Children in a Democracy--not the Conference on "Children in Our Economy."]
35. Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Conscience..., p. 8.
36. Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Conscience..., p. 37. Note also that by basing his natural wage/starvation wage line on the cost of the (uncooked) food for a family, he was implicitly building an equivalence scale into it.
37. Cook, Boston Monday Lectures. Labor..., p. 199 and 230. In connection with the $422 food expenditure figure, Cook commented, "I know that prices were higher in 1874 than they now are..." (p. 231).
38. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only goes back to 1913. However, BLS' 1976 Handbook of Labor Statistics contains (p. 313, Table 122) a table in which price index series by Ethel Hoover and Albert Rees are spliced to each other and to the BLS CPI series to produce a continuous series including figures for years before 1913. I have used figures from this table to convert pre-1913 poverty line and standard budget figures to 1963 dollars (1963 being the base year for the current official poverty thresholds developed by Mollie Orshansky). Price index figures in this table have two significant digits for years before 1913 and three significant digits for 1913 and later years; accordingly, I have calculated constant-dollar figures to the same number of significant digits (respectively) for those two periods.
39. Naomi Aronson, "Nutrition as a Social Problem: A Case Study of Entrepreneurial Strategy in Science," Social Problems, Vol. 29, No. 5, June 1982, pp. 474-487; Aronson, "The Making of the...Family Budget Series...", pp. 3-10 and 20-23; Aronson, Fuel for the Human Machine..., pp. 41-47 and 53-54; Naomi Aronson, "Social Factors in the Development of Nutrition Studies: 1880 - 1920," Journal of the NAL [National Agricultural Library] Associates (new series), Vol. 5, Nos. 1/2, January/June 1980, pp. 33-34; Naomi Aronson, "Social definitions of entitlement: food needs 1885-1920," Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1982, pp. 52-57 and 59; and Naomi Aronson, "U.S. Dietary Surveys 1885-1907: The Definition of a Normative Concept of Health" (February 2, 1980, version of a paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, New York City, August 1980). The quoted statement was by E.V. McCollum, the biochemist who first isolated Vitamin A, quoted in Albert Von Haller, The Vitamin Hunters, New York, Chilton Company, 1962, p. 36--quoted in turn in Aronson, Fuel for the Human Machine..., p. 45.
40. While the tradition of Atwater--reinforced by the cultural attitude that poor people just need to manage their money more efficiently--continued to constrain the research and development work of later home economists, one should not attribute anti-poor motivations to the individual home economists who developed minimum-cost food plans during the 1930's and 1960's. As a knowledgeable social policy analyst put it, "It is an important datum that the Agriculture Department was dealing with helping real human beings survive and developed the Economy Food Plan because the field workers found too many people who could not afford to buy the more generous Low [Cost] Food Plan"-- William C. Birdsall, "The Value of the Official Poverty Statistics" (paper presented at the Sixth Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, New Orleans, October 1984), p. 2, footnote 2.
41. "USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] studies indicate that many households with low food costs and/or low incomes....get greater returns in calories and most nutrients per dollar spent for food on the average than households with higher food costs and incomes"--Federal Register, December 1, 1975, p. 55650--reprinted on p. 92 of Betty Peterkin, "Food Plans for Poverty Measurement," Technical Paper XII of The Measure of Poverty, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1976. For early twentieth- century studies in York, England, and New York City with findings of this type, see Rowntree, Poverty[:] A Study..., pp. 250-251 and 255-256; and Louise Bolard More, Wage-Earners' Budgets[:] A Study of Standards and Cost of Living in New York City, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1907, p. 206. For findings from the 1965 [U.S.] Household Food Consumption Survey, see Betty Peterkin and Constance Ward, "Nutrients from a Dollar's Worth of Food, Northeast Region," Family Economics Review, June 1968, pp. 3-6. For findings from the 1977-1978 [U.S.] Nationwide Food Consumption Survey, see U.S. Department of Agriculture, Science and Education Administration, Money Value of Food Used by Households in the United States, Spring 1977, Nationwide Food Consumption Survey 1977-78, Preliminary Report No. 1, August 1979, pp. 11-12; Betty B. Peterkin and Mary Y. Hama, "Food Shopping Skills of the Rich and the Poor," Family Economics Review, [July] 1983, No. 3, pp. 8-10 and 12; and Karen J. Morgan, Betty B. Peterkin, S.R. Johnson, and Basile Goungetas, "Food Energy and Nutrients Per Dollar's Worth of Food From Available Home Food Supplies," Home Economics Research Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, December 1985, pp. 245-250. For findings from Britain's National Food Survey 1975, see C[aroline] L. Walker and M. Church, "Poverty by administration: a review of supplementary benefits, nutrition and scale rates," Journal of Human Nutrition, Vol. 32, No. 1, 1978, pp. 14 and 16.
42. Fourth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the State of Iowa. 1890-91., Des Moines, Iowa, G.H. Ragsdale, State Printer, 1891, pp. 271-273.
43. Isabel Eaton, Receipts and Expenditures of Certain Wage-Earners in the Garment Trades., Boston, W.J. Schofield, 1895--reprinted from Quarterly Publications of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 4, (new series) No. 30, June 1895, pp. 135-180. A shorter version of the report had been published on pp. 79-88 of Residents of Hull-House..., Hull-House Maps and Papers. A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago..., New York, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1895.
44. Four years later she prepared an 83-page "Special Report on Negro Domestic Service In the Seventh Ward[,] Philadelphia" which was included in W.E.B. DuBois' The Philadelphia Negro[:] A Social Study.
45. Eaton, p. 1. For brief comments on the background of the report, see Robert A. Woods and Albert J. Kennedy, The Settlement Horizon[:] A National Estimate, New York, Russell Sage Foundation, 1922, pp. 202-203.
46. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., this depression lasted from January 1893 to June 1894; it was soon followed by another "contraction" lasting from December 1895 to June 1897. (See "Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions," p. C-45 in Survey of Current Business, Vol. 72, No. 10, October 1992. Some historians view the whole 1893-1897 period as a single multiyear depression--see, for instance, Michael B. Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse[:] A Social History of Welfare in America, New York, Basic Books, Inc., 1986, p. 147.) In the report, Eaton referred to "the crisis of the spring of 1893" (p. 5), "the panic of 1893" and "the extreme depression of trade following this panic" (p. 40), and contrasted "good times" with "this year, 1893-94" (p. 26).
47. There were some exceptions to this general statement; during the last third of the nineteenth century, people occasionally did use the term "poverty" to mean "income insufficiency." For one example, see footnote 58 below.
48. The term "pauperism" had strong negative emotional connotations. For an example of the tone of late nineteenth-century writing about pauperism and paupers, see Francis A. Walker, "The Causes of Poverty," Century Magazine, Vol. 55, No. 2, December 1897, pp. 210-211. A late twentieth-century phrase with similar meaning and similar negative emotional connotations is "welfare dependency."
49. Bremner, pp. 124-126 and 152-153; and James Leiby, "Social Control and Historical Explanation: Historians View the Piven and Cloward Thesis," p. 96 in Trattner (ed.), Social Welfare or Social Control?....
50. Bremner, pp. 131 and 134-135; Walter I. Trattner, From Poor Law to Welfare State[:] A History of Social Welfare in America (fourth edition), New York, Free Press, 1989, pp. 164-165; Leiby, "Social Control and Historical Explanation...", p. 96 in Trattner (ed.), Social Welfare or Social Control?...; Edward T. Devine, "Personal Depravity or Social Mal-adjustment" [editorial], Charities and The Commons, Vol. 21, [No. 5,] October 31, 1908, pp. 141-142; Lilian Brandt, "The Causes of Poverty," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 4, December 1908, pp. 637-651; and "The Conquest of Poverty" [Part I], Metropolitan Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 1, October 1909, pp. 22-23 (the source of the quotation).
51. See, for instance, the first part (pp. 19-22) of Sidney E. Zimbalist, "Drawing the Poverty Line," Social Work, Vol. 9, No. 3, July 1964, pp. 19-26.
52. Dorothy W. Douglas, "A Description of Standards of Living," pp. 272-287 in (Paul) Douglas, Hitchcock, and Atkins (cited in footnote 11 above). For an earlier version of this classification scheme, see pp. 49-55 in Paul and Dorothy Douglas, "What Can a Man Afford?", American Economic Review, Vol. 11, No. 4, Supplement No. 2, December 1921.
53. Oscar Ornati (with the editorial assistance of J. Stouder Sweet), Poverty Amid Affluence[:] A Report on a Research Project carried out at the New School for Social Research, New York, Twentieth Century Fund, 1966. For discussions and tabular material on the sixty budgets and Ornati's three categories, see pp. 10-14, 141-145, and 147-150.
54. Among the most important articles quantitatively demonstrating the income elasticity of the poverty line are Robert W. Kilpatrick, "The Income Elasticity of the Poverty Line," Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 55, No. 3, August 1973, pp. 327-332; Lee Rainwater, What Money Buys[:] Inequality and the Social Meanings of Income, Chapter 3, "Changing Standards of Living," pp. 41-63, New York, Basic Books, 1974; Diana Karter Appelbaum, "The Level of the Poverty Line: A Historical Survey," Social Service Review, Vol. 51, No. 3, September 1977, pp. 514-523; and Irving Leveson, "Updating Poverty Standards and Program Benefits," Growth and Change, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 1978, pp. 14-22. For a sociological explanation of the quantitative phenomena described in these articles, see David Hamilton, "Drawing the Poverty Line at a Cultural Subsistence Level," Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4, March 1962, pp. 337-345. For an exhaustive (78-page) compilation of evidence for the income elasticity of the poverty line from the U.S. and three other countries, see Gordon M. Fisher, "Is There Such a Thing as an Absolute Poverty Line Over Time? Evidence from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia on the Income Elasticity of the Poverty Line" (unpublished paper), August 1995. The U.S. evidence in this paper is briefly summarized in one section of Gordon M. Fisher, "Disseminating the Administrative Version and Explaining the Administrative and Statistical Versions of the Federal Poverty Measure," Clinical Sociology Review, Vol. 15, 1997 (forthcoming), and in Gordon M. Fisher, "Relative or Absolute--New Light on the Behavior of Poverty Lines Over Time," GSS/SSS Newsletter [Joint Newsletter of the Government Statistics Section and the Social Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association], Summer 1996, pp. 10-12.
55. Bremner, pp. 51-57 and 60-66; Clarke A. Chambers and Andrea Hinding, "Charity Workers, the Settlements, and the Poor," Social Casework, Vol. 49, No. 2, February 1968, pp. 96-101; Trattner, From Poor Law to Welfare State..., pp. 86-97, 147, and 149-165; Allen F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform[:] The Social Settlements and the Progressive Movement[,] 1890-1914, New York, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp. xiii-xiv and 18-22; Abraham Epstein, "The Soullessness of Presentday Social Work," Current History, Vol. 28, No. 3, June 1928, p. 391; and John F. McClymer, War and Welfare[:] Social Engineering in America, 1890-1925, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1980, pp. 12-17. (The McClymer book is an insightful study of institutional limits encountered by early social workers trying to influence public policy.)
56. Clarke A. Chambers, "Women in the Creation of the Profession of Social Work," Social Service Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, March 1986, pp. 1-33. See also Dorothy G. Becker, "Social Welfare Leaders as Spokesmen for the Poor," Social Casework, Vol. 49, No. 2, February 1968, pp. 86-89.
57. John T. Cumbler, "The Politics of Charity: Gender and Class in Late 19th Century Charity Policy," Journal of Social History, Vol. 14, No. 1, fall 1980, pp. 99-111.
58. Since writing the original version of this paper, I have found one earlier instance of the use of the word "poverty" together with a specific dollar income figure--in the 1870-1871 report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor (MBSL). The report stated that "...if a man is earning only $2 or less a day, as is the case with thousands of men in the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts], with families, he must be very near the condition of poverty or want"--[Second] Report of the [Massachusetts] Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Embracing the Account of Its Operations and Inquiries from March 1, 1870, to March 1, 1871., Boston, Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1871, p. 434. (For knowledge of the existence of this reference, I am indebted to William B. Hartley, "Estimation of the Incidence of Poverty in the United States 1870 to 1914" (unpublished Ph.D. thesis), 1969, p. 27.) The authors of the report (Henry K. Oliver, Chief of the MBSL, and George E. McNeill, the Deputy) defined poverty as "a condition of want, of lack, of being without, though not necessarily a condition of complete dependence" (p. 532), explicitly indicating that they were using the term to mean something different from "pauperism" (p. 531). Elsewhere in the report, without mentioning the term "poverty," they wrote that after allowing for the amount of unemployment to be reasonably expected during a year, "the workman, at $2 a day, will have $526 as his year's earnings, if he have no loss by sickness and permit himself no vacation" (p. 552); accordingly, $526 can be taken as a reasonable annual estimate for their poverty line. Oliver and McNeill were advocates of labor reform; their MBSL reports included recommendations for laws to improve safety and sanitary conditions in factories, to reduce the standard workday to only ten hours, and to require children working in factories to go to school at least half-time (Leiby, Carroll Wright and Labor Reform... (cited in footnote 25), pp. 42-45, 49-50, 55, 57-58, and 101). A more detailed discussion of the 1871 MBSL poverty line will have to await a later revision of this paper.
59. W.E.B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro[:] A Social Study, New York, Schocken Books, 1967 [original edition published in 1899], pp. 1-2, 170-172, 174-175, and 178. The belief that a minimum acceptable standard of living would be different for different occupational or racial/ethnic groups seems to have been a common one among DuBois' contemporaries; see, for instance, the comment on this belief in Hunter, Poverty, p. 48.
60. E. Digby Baltzell, "Introduction to the 1967 Edition" [of The Philadelphia Negro...], p. xvi. (For Isabel Eaton, see also p. 9 of this paper.)
61. Pp. 10-11 of the Ryan article cited in the next footnote. Professor Small added, "Let no man be paid more than $50,000, which is the salary of the President of the United States."
62. John A. Ryan, "What Wage is a Living Wage?", Catholic World, Vol. 75, No. 445, April 1902, p. 16. Unlike the other informal estimates given here, Father Ryan's figure was developed on the basis of a standard budget (see pp. 11-15). His figures were derived from expenditure data for 1891 (a year when prices were slightly higher than in 1902, but about the same as in 1903-1906), and the average family size that he had in mind seems to have been about six. The article also included one of the earliest American statements of the concept that is now known as the income elasticity of the poverty line: "Because of the development of new wants[,] a decent livelihood now may be less than a decent livelihood ten years hence. To ignore the new wants, then, would be as harmful as to ignore existing wants now. A true decent livelihood, therefore, is relative, not only to particular communities, but to different stages of progress in each community" (p. 5--emphasis in original). (This statement was reprinted almost verbatim on p. 127 of Ryan, A Living Wage[:] Its Ethical and Economic Aspects, New York, Macmillan, 1906.)
63. Twentieth Annual Report of the [New York State] Bureau of Labor Statistics For the Year Ended September 30, 1902., Albany, Argus Company, Printers, 1903, pp. 71-72.
64. John Mitchell, Organized Labor[:] Its Problems, Purposes and Ideals and the Present and Future of American Wage Earners, Philadelphia, American Book and Bible House, 1903, p. 118. He gave several paragraphs qualitatively describing what "the American standard of living should mean" (pp. 116-117). He had also put forward the $600 figure in testimony in November 1902; see "[Volume] No. 3[--]Proceedings of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission Held at Scranton, Pa., November 15, 1902" [typescript in the U.S. Department of Labor library], Hanna & Budlong, Official Stenographers, Washington, D.C., pp. 173-174, 199, 247, 250, and 261. Like Father Ryan, Mitchell recognized the concept of the income elasticity of the poverty line: "...I believe that what should now be considered as the American standard and as a minimum wage, will, in the course of ten or twenty years, cease to be so considered, since it is reasonable to anticipate that the earnings of workingmen and their requirements for comfort, will, with the progress of the age, increase in the future as they have in the past" (p. 116).
65. Edward T. Devine, The Principles of Relief, New York, Macmillan, 1904, pp. 35-36. Devine went beyond Mitchell by giving a qualitative description of what "the standard of living" should include that took up a third of a chapter (pp. 29-34).
66. Peter d'A. Jones, "Introduction to the Torchbook Edition," pp. x-xii in Robert Hunter (edited by Peter d'A. Jones), Poverty[:] Social Conscience in the Progressive Era, New York, Harper & Row, 1965.
67. Hunter, Poverty, pp. 2 and 19.
68. Hunter, Poverty, pp. 51-53.
69. John A. Ryan, A Living Wage[:] Its Ethical and Economic Aspects, New York, Macmillan, 1906, pp. 119-121 and 123. For comments on the "living wage" concept, see Paul H. Douglas, Wages and the Family, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1925, pp. 3-4; Bremner, p. 153; and Aronson, "The Making of the...Family Budget Series...", pp. 12-14. For comments on the "family wage" concept--to a considerable degree the same concept--see Martha May, "The Historical Problem of the Family Wage: The Ford Motor Company and the Five Dollar Day," pp. 111-131 in Naomi Gerstel and Harriet Engel Gross (editors), Families and Work, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1987.
70. Ryan, A Living Wage..., pp. 135-136.
71. Ryan, A Living Wage..., pp. 141-145. (As in the case of Rowntree's diet, Ryan's omission of "Life Insurance" and "Sickness and Death" will have been a concession to ungenerous popular attitudes towards lower-income groups.) Ryan's standard budget was generally not mentioned in reviews of family budget studies over the next several decades. One wonders if this omission may have had something to do with the fact that he was a Catholic operating in a predominantly Protestant milieu. (Cf. the following comment: "The story of Catholic charity in America has hardly been told by historians, who usually ignore or slight its efforts. The Protestant coloration of the history of American social reform truly is remarkable"--Michael B. Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse[:] A Social History of Welfare in America, New York, Basic Books, 1986, p. 300, footnote 10.)
72. Ryan, A Living Wage..., pp. 149-150 [emphasis in original]; for the average family size, see pp. 121-122.
73. "Conference of Charities and Correction" was the designation used for professional organizations of social workers at both the New York State and the national levels. In 1917 the national organization changed its name to the National Conference of Social Work.
74. Frank Tucker, "The Social Significance of the Standard of Living," Charities and The Commons, Vol. 17, [No. 7,] November 17, 1906, pp. 301-302.
75. Caroline Goodyear, "A Study of the Minimum Practicable Cost of an Adequate Standard of Living in New York City," pp. 50-51 in Proceedings of the New York State Conference of Charities and Correction...November...1906, Albany, J.B. Lyon Company, 1907--reprinted in Charities and The Commons, Vol. 17, [No. 7,] November 17, 1906, pp. 319-320. Note that Goodyear assumed that necessary medical expenses for the dependent widow and family would be met by charitable assistance, and would thus not require a specific budget item (p. 41--reprinted on p. 315).
76. Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of [Industrial] Statistics and Information of Maryland[,] 1906., Baltimore, Kohn & Pollock, 1907, pp. 133-134; and Arthur B. Reeve, "The Standard of Decent Living," Independent, Vol. 63, No. 3065, August 29, 1907, pp. 500-501. Neither source identified the authors or sources of these estimates.
77. Fifteenth Annual Report...Maryland..., pp. 133-135 (see also pp. 8-9). The Reeve article cited in the preceding footnote identified (p. 501) the investigator making this study as Mr. J.G. Schonfarber [the assistant chief of the Maryland Bureau].
78. Louise Bolard More, Wage-Earners' Budgets[:] A Study of Standards and Cost of Living in New York City (Greenwich House Series of Social Studies--No. 1), New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1907, pp. 2 and 5-6.
79. More, pp. 122-124.
80. More, pp. 269-270. (The emphasis in the quotation is in the original.) The technique of taking the annual cost of a "standard dietary" and a percentage share of income to be spent on food, and calculating a required total annual income figure from them, was described under the heading "Wages and Dietaries" on p. 36 of Richmond Mayo-Smith, Science of Statistics. Part II. Statistics and Economics, New York, Macmillan, 1899. The description of the technique followed several pages after a discussion of a "problem of vital importance to the community, i.e. whether the earnings of the mass of the people are large enough to give them food, clothing and shelter of a quantity and quality sufficient to maintain health, strength and physical well-being" (pp. 30-31); the discussion included a comment that in "determin[ing] whether such food, clothing and shelter are sufficient for decent living[, t]wo of these last-named items, viz., clothing and shelter, are extremely difficult to handle" (p. 31).
81. Robert Coit Chapin, The Standard of Living Among Workingmen's Families in New York City, New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1909.
82. Lee K. Frankel, "Report of the Special Committee on Standard of Living," pp. 16-17 and 36 in Eighth New York State Conference of Charities and Correction[--]Proceedings...November...1907, Albany, J.B. Lyon Company, State Printers, 1908; and Chapin, The Standard of Living..., pp. xiii-xiv. The statement of the Committee's "fairly conservative...estimate" was reprinted on p. 281 of Chapin, The Standard of Living....
83. R[obert] C. Chapin, "The Influence of Income on Standards of Life," American Economic Association Quarterly (third series), Vol. 10, No. 1, April 1909, pp. 185-186; and Frankel, "Report of the Special Committee...", pp. 18-19.
84. In a 1977 article, Diana Appelbaum compared the 1.5-persons-per-room standard (as she found it in a 1917 study) with the 1960 Decennial Census' overcrowding standard of 1.01 persons per room, and interpreted the improvement in this standard over time as an aspect [what one might call a non-monetary or noncash aspect] of the income elasticity of the poverty line-- Appelbaum, pp. 519-520.
85. Chapin, The Standard of Living..., pp. 245-246.
86. Margaret F. Byington, Homestead[:] The Households of a Mill Town (The Pittsburgh Survey[--]Findings in Six Volumes, edited by Paul Underwood Kellogg), New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1910.
87. O.F. Lewis, "The Conquest of Poverty[:] II. Some Things That Organized Philanthropy Is Trying to Do," Metropolitan Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 2, November 1909, pp. 193-196; Bremner, pp. 154-156; Davis, Spearheads for Reform..., pp. 172-173; and McClymer, pp. 30-35. For a recent major study of the Pittsburgh Survey by a number of historians and social scientists, see Maurine W. Greenwald and Margo Anderson (editors), Pittsburgh Surveyed: Social Science and Social Reform in the Early Twentieth Century, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996.
88. Paul U. Kellogg (Director, Pittsburgh Survey), "Editor's Foreword," pp. vi-vii in Byington, Homestead....
89. Byington, Homestead..., pp. 37 and 70-71.
90. Byington, Homestead..., pp. 105-106. In a brief restatement of these conclusions, she used the phrase "working margin" in connection with the above-$15 group, described the above-$20 group as reaching "a point of surplus where...they could live well," and specified that she was considering prices in 1907 (pp. 182-183).
91. This presents a particularly clear example of the income elasticity of the poverty line. In 1907, a five-person family with a constant-dollar income equivalent to 92 percent of Orshansky's poverty threshold would have been deemed by Byington to be "liv[ing] well" and "satisfy[ing]...the reasonable ambitions of an American who puts his life into his work." In 1965--and even more so in 1993--no reasonable person would say that a family with that constant-dollar income was "living well."
92. Margaret F. Byington, "Some Unconsidered Elements in Household Expenditure," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 48, July 1913, pp. 112-114.
93. Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States in 19 Volumes[--]Volume XVI: Family Budgets of Typical Cotton-Mill Workers (Prepared...by Wood F. Worcester and Daisy Worthington Worcester), Washington, [U.S.] Government Printing Office, 1911.
94. Davis, pp. 133-135; and Worcester, Grim the Battles..., pp. 40-41.
95. Worcester, Grim the Battles..., pp. 8-9, 38, 41, 58, and 66-67.
96. ...Family Budgets of...Cotton-Mill Workers, pp. 133-135, 142-143, 152-153, and 233. See also Worcester, Grim the Battles..., pp. 67-78 (with minor typographical errors in the fair standard totals). For Congressional reaction to the publication of this study, see Worcester, Grim the Battles..., pp. 78-86.
97. ...Family Budgets of...Cotton-Mill Workers, pp. 243 and 245.
98. John C. Kennedy et al., Wages and Family Budgets in the Chicago Stockyards District, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1914. (For the fact that this study was done by the University of Chicago Settlement, see National Industrial Conference Board, Family Budgets of American Wage- Earners[:] A Critical Analysis (Research Report Number 41), New York, Century Co., September 1921, p. 22.)
99. Frank H. Streightoff, "Report on the Cost of Living" (Appendix VII), Fourth Report of the [New York State] Factory Investigating Commission (Volume IV), Albany, 1915. The New York State Factory Investigating Commission was originally established as a result of public outrage over the Triangle Waist Company fire of 1911, a social and industrial scandal in which 148 persons, mostly young women and girls, were killed--see Bremner, p. 237.
100. [New York City] Board of Estimate and Apportionment, Report on the Cost of Living for an Unskilled Laborer's Family in New York City (Submitted by the Bureau of Standards to the Committee on Salary and Grade), 1915; and [New York City] Board of Estimate and Apportionment, Report on the Increased Cost of Living for an Unskilled Laborer's Family in New York City (Prepared by the Bureau of Personal Service), February 1917.
101. Winifred Stuart Gibbs, The Minimum Cost of Living: A Study of Families of Limited Income in New York City, New York, Macmillan, 1917.
102. William C. Beyer (in charge), Rebekah P. Davis (assistant), and Myra Thwing (assistant), Workingmen's Standard of Living in Philadelphia (a report by the Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia), New York, Macmillan, 1919.
103. Esther Louise Little and William Joseph Henry Cotton, Budgets of Families and Individuals in Kensington, Philadelphia, Lancaster, 1920. For the fact that Little and Cotton were graduate students, see W. Jett Lauck, The New Industrial Revolution and Wages..., New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1929, p. 21.
104. Sadie Tanner Mossell, "The Standard of Living Among One Hundred Negro Migrant Families in Philadelphia" (Ph.D. dissertation), Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 98, November 1921, pp. 169-218.
105. U.S. House of Representatives, To Fix the Compensation of Certain Employees[:] Hearings Before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Labor...on H.R. 11876...March...and April...1916, Washington, [U.S.] Government Printing Office, 1916, pp. 3-6 and 15-16; and U.S. House of Representatives, "Minimum Wage Bill.[--]Report. [To accompany H.R. 11876.]" (64th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 742), p. 3.
106. Report of Survey Committee to the Dallas Wage Commission and Submitted by Them To the Honorable Mayor and Board of Commissioners of the City of Dallas, April 25, 1917, pp. 2-4, 11, and 13. (The emphasis in the quotation on food was in the original.)
107. [no author listed] "The Conquest of Poverty" [Part I], Metropolitan Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 1, October 1909, p. 15. A different set of similarities between poverty and tuberculosis became evident during the 1980's.
108. "The Conquest of Poverty" [Part I], pp. 18-19 and 26. The author did something that authors of later articles also occasionally did--referring to a dollar figure, then to poverty or the poverty line, and then to the dollar figure again in a way that made it evident that the dollar figure in question was considered to be the poverty line, yet never explicitly stating, "The poverty line is $800 a year." This will be referred to below as "implicitly setting a poverty line."
109. Scott Nearing, Financing the Wage-Earner's Family[:] A Survey of the Facts Bearing on Income and Expenditures in the Families of American Wage- Earners, New York, B.W. Huebsch, 1913.
110. "Nearing, Scott," p. 299 in Charles Moritz (editor), Current Biography Yearbook[,] 1971, New York, H.W. Wilson Company, 1972.
111. Daniel Horowitz, The Morality of Spending[:] Attitudes toward the Consumer Society in America, 1875-1940, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 217, footnote 22.
112. "Nearing, Scott," p. 299 in Current Biography Yearbook[,] 1971; and Glenn Fowler, "Scott Nearing, Environmentalist, Pacifist and Radical, Dies at 100," New York Times, August 25, 1983, p. D21.
113. Scott Nearing, The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography, New York, Harper & Row, 1972, pp. 23, 34, and 59-60.
114. Nearing, Financing the Wage-Earner's Family..., pp. 85-87.
115. This distinction was also adopted by Maurice Parmelee in 1916 in a review of budget studies that had results generally similar to Nearing's. See Maurice Parmelee, Poverty and Social Progress, New York, Macmillan, 1916, pp. 86-93.
116. Nearing, Financing the Wage-Earner's Family..., pp. 62-63, 89, and 97.
117. According to the price index series I am using in this paper, the price index was 28 in 1907 (the year of the Chapin and Byington studies). It dropped to 27 in 1908 (the year of the Worcester study) and 1909, but had risen to 29.7 by 1913 (the year Nearing's book was published). Using the 1907 figure rather than the 1908 figure has the effect of accounting for at least part of the rise in prices from 1908 to 1913.
118. John R. Shillady, "The 'Run-of-Mine' Output of Relief Work," Survey, Vol. 30, No. 19, August 9, 1913, pp. 599-600. ("Run-of-mine" is a synonym of "run-of-the-mill.")
119. See, for instance, the comparisons of payment levels under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Supplemental Security Income programs with the poverty thresholds on pp. 657-658 and 836-837 of U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Overview of Entitlement Programs[--]1993 Green Book[:] Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means (WMCP: 103-18), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, July 7, 1993.
120. Quoted on p. 12 of Blanche D. Coll, Perspectives in Public Welfare[:] A History, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Social and Rehabilitation Service, Office of Research, Demonstrations, and Training, Intramural Research Division, 1969. See Coll's discussion of the Poor Law Commission on pp. 10-12 and 15; see also Trattner, From Poor Law to Welfare State..., pp. 46-49.
121. Cf. the comment made in a 1931 discussion of a British social survey "that all the Poverty Lines seem to bear a close relation to the wage of unskilled labour in the country in which they are made...."--Henry Clay, p. 256 in "Discussion on Mr. Jones's Paper [D. Caradog Jones, "The Social Survey of Merseyside. An Analysis of Material Relating to Poverty, Overcrowding, and the Social Services."]," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 94, Part II, 1931.
122. For his and King's slightly later equivalence-scale-related concepts of "fammains" and "ammains," see Edgar Sydenstricker and Wil[l]ford I. King, "A Method of Classifying Families According to Incomes in Studies of Disease Prevalence," Public Health Reports, Vol. 35, No. 48, November 25, 1920, pp. 2829-2846; Edgar Sydenstricker and Willford I. King, "The Classification of the Population According to Income," Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 29, No. 7, July 1921, pp. 571-594; and Edgar Sydenstricker and Willford I. King, "The Measurement of the Relative Economic Status of Families," Quarterly Publication of the American Statistical Association (new series), Vol. 17, No. 135, September 1921, pp. 842-857.
123. Note that a 1923 article by Dorothea Kittredge presented a proposal for determining a living wage by rating the health and studying the standard of living of a sample of working-class families; see Dorothea Davis Kittredge, "A Suggestion for Determining a Living Wage," American Economic Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, June 1923, pp. 225-229.
124. B.S. Warren and Edgar Sydenstricker, Health Insurance[--]Its Relation to the Public Health (Public Health Bulletin No. 76), Washington, Treasury Department, U.S. Public Health Service, March 1916, pp. 19, 36, and 43.
125. W. Jett Lauck and Edgar Sydenstricker, Conditions of Labor in American Industries[:] A Summarization of the Results of Recent Investigations, New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1917, pp. 368-376. They also included a discussion of the concept that is now known as the income elasticity of the poverty line: "...the social standard of minimum subsistence has become more costly [since 1900]. New desires and new wants have been created, and it is impossible to assume that the wage-working family has not been affected in much the same way as the family of the business man, the banker, the office worker, or even the farmer....even if the levels of prices and wages had remained without change since 1900, the cost of living would have increased, because the social standard of living has become more expensive. To live adequately to-day costs more than it did even ten or fifteen years ago, not simply because prices have gone up, but because our standards of health, comfort, and efficiency are more exacting..." (pp. 378-379).
126. Edgar Sydenstricker, G.A. Wheeler, and Joseph Goldberger, "Disabling Sickness Among the Population of Seven Cotton Mill Villages of South Carolina in Relation to Family Income," Public Health Reports, Vol. 33, No. 47, November 22, 1918, pp. 2041, 2046, and 2051.
127. William F. Ogburn, "Part I[.] Digest and Critical Analysis," pp. 5-46 in Memorandum on the Minimum Wage and Increased Cost of Living (for the members of the National War Labor Board...Submitted by the Secretary [W. Jett Lauck] at the request of the Board at its meeting on July 12, 1918), Washington, [U.S.] Government Printing Office, 1918; and William F. Ogburn, "Measurement of the Cost of Living and Wages," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 81, January 1919, pp. 110-122.
128. Ogburn, "...Digest and Critical Analysis," p. 9.
129. Ogburn's classification was also used, with only minor modifications (and without citing him), in an important budget study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics late in 1919; see "Tentative Quantity-Cost Budget Necessary to Maintain Family of Five in Washington, D.C.", Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 9, No. 6, December 1919, p. 23.
130. Ogburn, "...Digest and Critical Analysis," p. 9; and Ogburn, "Measurement of the Cost of Living...", pp. 114-115. Ogburn also briefly discussed the concept of the income elasticity of the poverty line: "The minimum of subsistence will...change over a period of time, irrespective of the level of prices. What was the minimum of subsistence a number of years ago is certainly not a minimum of subsistence now"--"Measurement of the Cost of Living...", p. 114.
131. Ogburn, "...Digest and Critical Analysis," pp. 10 and 13-17; see also Ogburn, "Measurement of the Cost of Living...", pp. 115-116.
132. Dorothy Douglas in (Paul) Douglas, Hitchcock, and Atkins, pp. 273 and 283-287.
133. Here is another clear example of the income elasticity of the poverty line. In 1965--and even more so in 1993--no one would describe an income of 102 percent of the poverty threshold as "the attainment of the highest class of wage-earners and the cynosure of the rest."
134. Margaret Loomis Stecker, "Family Budgets and Wages," American Economic Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, September 1921, pp. 447-465.
135. Paul H. Douglas, "Is the Family of Five Typical?", Journal of the American Statistical Association (new series), Vol. 19, No. 147, September 1924, pp. 314-328.
136. "Family Budgets," American Economic Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, Supplement (Proceedings of the December 1926 American Economic Association Meeting), March 1927, p. 137.
137. Daisy Lee Worthington Worcester, "The Standard of Living," p. 345 in Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work...June 26-July 3, 1929, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. See also Daisy Lee Worthington Worcester, "This Amazing Prosperity," Survey, Vol. 61, No. 3, November 1, 1928, p. 123; noting the fact that average annual wages in a number of industries were below the level of even the NICB's four-person budget, she wrote, "...unfortunately the workingman cannot resort to the statistical device of eliminating a member of his family in order to make income and expenditure balance....Indeed, this is a rather dangerous precedent for the Conference Board to establish. It looks already as if another child would have to go, for only two industries in New York permit the existence of a second child today. A boast of national prosperity becomes a bit hollow..." (p. 124).
138. Jules Backman and M.R. Gainsbrugh, "Subsistence Budgets, 1944 Model," The Conference Board Management Record, Vol. 6, No. 10, October 1944, pp. 279-280.
139. Paul H. Nystrom, Economic Principles of Consumption, New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1929, pp. 224-233, 236, 278-298, and 300-302.
140. Louis S. Reed, The Ability to Pay for Medical Care (Publications of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care: No. 25), Chicago, University of Chicago Press, January 1933, pp. v, 1, 6, and 54-62.
141. Hazel K. Stiebeling and Medora M. Ward, Diets at Four Levels of Nutritive Content and Cost, U.S. Department of Agriculture Circular No. 296, Washington, D.C., November 1933; and Hazel K. Stiebeling, Food Budgets for Nutrition and Production Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 183, Washington, D.C., December 1933.
142. Hazel K. Stiebeling, Hazel E. Munsell, Miriam Birdseye, W[illiam] H. Sebrell, and Clyde B. Schuman, Buy Health Protection With Your Food Money, U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Service Circular 139, Washington, D.C., November 1930; see also Hazel K. Stiebeling and Miriam Birdseye, Adequate Diets for Families with Limited Incomes, U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 113, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1931.
143. [Martha M. Eliot and Agnes K. Hanna,] U.S. Department of Labor[,] Children's Bureau[,] and [Hazel K. Stiebeling,] U.S. Department of Agriculture[,] Bureau of Home Economics, Emergency Food Relief and Child Health [leaflet], Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931, pp. 7-8.
144. Stiebeling and Ward, Diets at Four Levels..., p. 4.
145. Stiebeling, Food Budgets for Nutrition..., p. 4.
146. Stiebeling and Ward, Diets at Four Levels..., pp. 4, 20, and 26-27.
147. Betsy Haughton, Joan Dye Gussow, and Janice M. Dodds, "An Historical Study of the Underlying Assumptions for United States Food Guides from 1917 through the Basic Four Food Group Guide," Journal of Nutrition Education, Vol. 19, No. 4, July/August 1987, p. 171 [emphasis in original].
148. Stiebeling and Ward, Diets at Four Levels..., p. 2.
149. Bureau of Home Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Planning Diets by the new yardstick of good nutrition[--]Low Cost[,] Moderate Cost[,] Liberal (U.S. Department of Agriculture unnumbered publication), Washington, D.C., July 1941.
150. See also (for instance) Office of Personnel and Business Administration, List of Technical Workers in the Department of Agriculture and Outline of Department Functions[,] 1931, U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 123, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1, 1931, pp. 93-94; of the 42 "technical workers" listed (all but one of them with at least a bachelor's degree), 41 were women. For brief comments on the role of home economics as one of the few fields providing professional opportunities for women with scientific training during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Aronson, "Nutrition as a Social Problem...", pp. 480 and 483-484; see further Margaret W. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America[:] Struggles and Strategies to 1940, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982, pp. 60, 65-70, 200-203, and 254 (with specific references to the Bureau of Home Economics on pp. 225 and 229).
151. Maurice Leven, Harold G. Moulton, and Clark Warburton, America's Capacity to Consume (Publication No. 56 of the Institute of Economics of the Brookings Institution), Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution, 1934, pp. 1, 51-52, 87, and 117-124.
152. The authors also mentioned a family income figure of $2,000 which, they said, "may perhaps be regarded as sufficient to supply only basic necessities" (p. 56). However, since this figure fell in the lower range of their second lowest income class, "minimum comfort" (families with incomes between $1,500 and $3,000), it would seem appropriate to consider it something higher than a poverty or minimum subsistence line (pace James T. Patterson, America's Struggle Against Poverty[,] 1900-1994, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1994, p. 16).
153. Stecker had been a member of the research staff of the National Industrial Conference Board from 1917 to 1928. In 1934 she came to work for the federal government; she was chief of the cost of living research unit, first of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and then of the Works Progress Administration, from 1934 to 1938. See "Stecker, Dr. M(argaret) L(oomis)," pp. 646-647 in Jaques Cattell (editor), American Men [sic] of Science[:] A Biographical Directory[--]Volume III[--]The Social & Behavioral Sciences (ninth edition), New York, R.R. Bowker Company, 1956.
154. Margaret Loomis Stecker, Quantity Bu[d]gets of Goods and Services Necessary for a Basic Maintenance Standard of Living and for Operation Under Emergency Conditions..., Research Bulletin [Series I, No. 21], Division of Social Research, Works Progress Administration, Washington, 1936.
155. Margaret Loomis Stecker, Intercity Differences in Costs of Living in March 1935, 59 Cities, Research Monograph XII, Works Progress Administration, Division of Social Research, Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937.
156. Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Division of Research, Statistics and Finance, Research Section, Research Bulletin (Not for Release), "Relief Standards[--]Outline of a Plan for Studying the Adequacy of Relief Among Families Supported in Whole or in Part from Funds o[f] the Federal Emergency Relief Administration," Revised January 16, 1935. (This document was in the Department of Health and Human Services' departmental library until it was closed in February 1992.)
157. Stecker, Intercity Differences..., pp. ix, xvii, and 123.
158. Stecker, Intercity Differences..., pp. xii-xiv, xvii, and 5; and Stecker, Quantity Bu[d]gets..., pp. 3-4 and 7. Although her language was terse, Stecker does seem to have recognized the concept of the income elasticity of the poverty line; discussing her low-cost budgets, she wrote, "...as consumption itself is raised to higher levels, budgets must take account of the improved standards of living thus manifested" (Intercity Differences..., p. xiv).
159. Interestingly, what became the emergency budget was referred to as "a minimum of subsistence standard" on p. 3 of the January 1935 plan cited in footnote 156. (What became the maintenance budget was referred to there as "a minimum standard of decency.")
160. Franklin D. Roosevelt, "The [Second] Inaugural Address, 1937," pp. 29-30 in Harold L. Sheppard (editor), Poverty and Wealth in America (a New York Times Book), Chicago, Quadrangle Books, 1970. Besides a criterion of poverty, this address also contained a criterion of equitable economic growth ("The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.") and a criterion--or at least a condition--of government effectiveness ("Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees for the whole people.").
161. [U.S.] National Resources Committee, Consumer Incomes in the United States[:] Their Distribution in 1935-36, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, August 1938, pp. 1, 7-9, 42, and 95.
162. Consumer Incomes in the United States..., p. 41.
163. Note the comment in Consumer Incomes in the United States..., p. 59, that the income distributions from the National Health Survey were consistently lower than those derived from the Study of Consumer Purchases, and that this was due at least in part to the fact that the National Health Survey's definition of income excluded certain items included in the Study of Consumer Purchases' income definition--e.g., the imputed value of the occupancy of an owned home.
164. Albert W. Atwood, "Who Are the Underprivileged Third? Classification of Low-Income Groups Reveals Difficulties of Solution," Barron's[--]The National Financial Weekly, Vol. 19, No. 8, February 20, 1939, p. 3; John Hope II, "A National Floor to Standards of Living A War Necessity," Phylon (The Atlanta University Review of Race & Culture), Vol. 4, No. 1, First Quarter 1943, pp. 24-25 and 28; "Poverty--and Progress" [editorial], New York Times, November 14, 1949, p. 26; Eugene Smolensky, "The Past and Present Poor," p. 55 in Task Force on Economic Growth and Opportunity, The Concept of Poverty, Washington, D.C., Chamber of Commerce of the United States, 1965; and James Tobin, "It Can Be Done! Conquering Poverty in the U[.]S[.] by 1976," New Republic, Vol. 156, No. 22, June 3, 1967, p. 15.
165. It can be calculated from figures in Consumer Incomes in the United States..., pp. 40 and 95, that the average size of the consumer unit (a consumer unit being either a family or a "single" individual) was 3.19 persons.
166. U.S. Public Health Service, National Institute of Health, Division of Public Health Methods, "The National Health Survey: 1935-1936[,] The Relief and Income Status of the Urban Population of the United States, 1935" (Preliminary Reports, The National Health Survey, Population Series, Bulletin No. C), Washington, 1938, pp. i-vi. For the fact that the National Health Survey collected money income, see I.S. Falk and Barkev S. Sanders, "The Economic Status of Urban Families and Children," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1939, p. 25.
167. Carroll R. Daugherty, Labor Problems in American Industry (fourth edition), Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1938, pp. 134-140.
168. Carroll R. Daugherty, Melvin G. de Chazeau, and Samuel S. Stratton, The Economics of the Iron and Steel Industry[:] Volume I (Bureau of Business Research Monographs, Number 6), New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, p. 155; see also Volume II, p. 798.
169. Daugherty, Labor Problems..., p. 137.
170. Daugherty, Labor Problems..., pp. 134 and 141-142. Although the relative income measures we propose today may be more technically sophisticated than Daugherty's, we cannot claim greater sophistication in our goals for average worker income or in our society's ability to meet those goals.
171. "Differences in Living Costs in Northern and Southern Cities," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 49, No. 1, July 1939, pp. 35-38; Committee on Long-Range Work and Relief Policies, Security, Work, and Relief Policies (Report...to the National Resources Planning Board), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942, pp. 162, 572, and 577-579; and "Estimated Intercity Differences in Cost of Living, March 15, 1943," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 57, No. 4, October 1943, pp. 803-805.
172. I.S. Falk and Barkev S. Sanders, "The Economic Status of Urban Families and Children," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1939, pp. 25-34; White House Conference on Children in a Democracy[,] Washington, D.C.[,] January 18-20, 1940[:] Final Report (Children's Bureau Publication No. 272), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942, pp. 78-84 and 379-389; Security, Work, and Relief Policies, pp. 153, 155, and 578-581; Thomas J. Woofter, Jr., "Children and Family Security," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 3, March 1945, pp. 5-10; Ellery F. Reed, "Cost of Living Compared with Family Income in Seven Cities," American Sociological Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, April 1946, pp. 192-197; Ellery F. Reed, "Family Income and Living Standards," Public Welfare, Vol. 5, No. 2, February 1947, pp. 26-29 and 48; and C.-E. A. Winslow, "Poverty and Disease," American Journal of Public Health and the Nation's Health, Vol. 38, No. 1, January 1948, pp. 175-177.
173. Security, Work, and Relief Policies, pp. 162-163.
174. "Estimated Intercity Differences in Cost of Living...1943," p. 803, footnote 1.
175. Research Department, Textile Workers Union of America, CIO, Substandard Conditions of Living[:] A Study of the Cost of the Emergency Sustenance Budget in Five Textile Manufacturing Communities in January-February, 1944, New York, 1944, Preface and pp. 11-12 and 17. See also "Cost of Living at a Subsistence Level," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 59, No. 4, October 1944, pp. 859-861.
176. Solomon Barkin, "On the Cost of a Subsistence Budget," Conference Board Management Record, Vol. 6, No. 12, December 1944, p. 354 (the source of the quotation); and Substandard Conditions of Living..., pp. 11, 20, and 22-23.
177. Substandard Conditions of Living..., pp. 17-18 and 24-26.
178. Stecker, Quantity Bu[d]gets..., p. 8, cited in Substandard Conditions of Living..., p. 25.
179. Substandard Conditions of Living..., pp. 24-26.
180. Substandard Conditions of Living..., pp. 17-18.
181. April 15, 1944, letter from A.F. Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner of Labor Statistics, to Solomon Barkin, Director of Research, Textile Workers Union of America--labeled "Appendix I[.] Statement of United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Respecting Survey," and stapled into a copy of Substandard Conditions of Living... in the Department of Labor library.
182. "Cost of Living at a Subsistence Level," pp. 859 and 860.
183. Jules Backman and M.R. Gainsbrugh, "Subsistence Budgets, 1944 Model," Conference Board Management Record, Vol. 6, No. 10, October 1944, pp. 279-286.
184. Division of Tax Research, Treasury Department, "Individual Income Tax Exemptions" (in U.S. Treasury Department Press Releases, bound Volume 70), December 1947, p. vi.
185. U.S. Congress, "Substandard Wages[--]Report from a Subcommittee to the Committee on Education and Labor[,] United States Senate...on S. Con. Res. 11[,] a Resolution Determining that a Straight Time Hourly Rate of 65 Cents per Hour is the Minimum Below Which the National War Labor Board Shall Consider Any Wage Rate Substandard...July 1945," Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1945, p. 2.
186. U.S. Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, "Economic Factors in Statutory Minimum Wages[--]Analysis of the Economic Factors in the Application of a Higher Statutory Minimum Wage...April 15...1948" (80th Congress, 2d Session, Senate Document No. 146), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1948, pp. 21-24.
187. Herman P. Miller, Income Distribution in the United States (A 1960 Census Monograph), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966, pp. 29-31.
188. Lester S. Kellogg and Dorothy S. Brady, "The City Worker's Family Budget," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, February 1948, pp. 137 and 133.
189. Kellogg and Brady, pp. 142 and 135; see also p. 138.
190. Helen H. Lamale and Margaret S. Stotz, "The Interim City Worker's Family Budget," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 83, No. 8, August 1960, pp. 785-808.
191. Personal communications, June 14, 1988, and February 14, 1989.
192. Proceedings of 23rd Interstate Conference on Labor Statistics[,] June 15-18, 1965, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 35.
193. Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, Helping Families Plan Food Budgets, U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 662, Washington, D.C., December 1948, pp. 15-16.
194. "Congress to Study Low-Income Group," New York Times, July 3, 1949, p. 21.
195. "8,000,000 Incomes Under $1,000 in '48," New York Times, November 13, 1949, pp. 1 and 68; and J.A. O'Leary, "Senators Study $2,000 Income Families' Plight," Washington Star, November 13, 1949.
196. U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Economic Report, Low-Income Families and Economic Stability[--]Materials on the Problem of Low-Income Families Assembled by the Staff of the Subcommittee on Low-Income Families..., Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949, pp. 2, 9-10, 35, and 52-55. The report identified the staff (p. ii) as Samuel L. Brown, Economist, and Elizabeth G. Magill, Research Assistant.
197. When converted to 1963 dollars, the Johnson CEA's family poverty line is equal to 97 percent of Orshansky's 1963 average nonfarm poverty threshold of $3,128 for a family of four.
198. Before the 1955 merger of the American Federation of Labor and the CIO, the CIO was the more liberal of the two labor federations.
199. "Statement of Hyman H. Bookbinder, Economist, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, CIO..." (December 21, 1949), p. 538 in U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Economic Report, Low-Income Families[--]Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Low-Income Families...Pursuant to Sec. 5(A) of Public Law 304..., Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950.
200. Edward A. Keller (With a Foreword by the Honorable Herbert Hoover), Low-Income Families in the United States (Based upon an Analysis of The Joint Committee on The Economic Report Entitled "Low-Income Families and Economic Stability"), New York, American Economic Foundation, 1950, unpaginated foreword and p. 1; see also "Capitalism Defended on Low-Income Group," New York Times, July 4, 1950, p. 20.
201. See, for instance, Robert L. Heilbroner, "Who Are the American Poor?", Harper's Magazine, Vol. 200, No. 1201, June 1950, pp. 27-33; "Spotlight on Misery," Economic Outlook (Congress of Industrial Organizations, Department of Education and Research), Vol. 12, No. 12, December 1951, pp. 90-91; "'Poverty' In the Midst of Prosperity," First National City Bank [of New York] Monthly Letter[--]Business and Economic Conditions, November 1956, pp. 125-128; and Mollie Orshansky, Corinne LeBovit, Ennis C. Blake, and Mary Ann Moss, Food Consumption and Dietary Levels of Rural Families in the North Central Region, 1952 (Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 157), Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Agriculture, November 1957, pp. 39, 41, 44, 47-48, and 50-53.
202. Walter P. Reuther, President, "Report to the Congress of Industrial Organizations," pp. 66 and 83 in 1953 Proceedings of the Fifteenth Constitutional Convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations[,] November...1953....
203. Philip Murray, President, "Report to the Congress of Industrial Organizations," p. 58 in 1952 Proceedings of the Fourteenth Constitutional Convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations[,] December...1952....
204. "Resolution No. 17[--]Economic Policy," p. 615 in 1954 Proceedings of the Sixteenth Constitutional Convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations[,] December...1954....
205. "Report of Committee on Resolutions...Economic Policy," p. 69 in American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Report of the 1st Constitutional Convention[--]Proceedings...December...1955.
206. Economic Report of the President Transmitted to the Congress January 28, 1954, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1954, pp. 100-102.
207. Economic Report of the President Transmitted to the Congress January 20, 1955, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955, pp. 57-59.
208. See, for instance, Helen B. Shaffer, "Pockets of Poverty" (June 6, 1956), p. 395 in Editorial Research Reports[:] Volume I, 1956.
209. Economic Report of the President Transmitted to the Congress January 24, 1956, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956, p. 63.
210. Conference on Economic Progress, Toward Full Employment and Full Production[:] How to End Our National Economic Deficits, Washington, D.C., July 1954, p. 32.
211. "Subcommittee on Low-Income Families," p. 7 in U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Economic Report, Joint Economic Report[--]Report of the Joint Committee on the Economic Report on the January 1955 Economic Report of the President... (84th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report No. 60), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955; see also Rep. Augustine B. Kelley (Pennsylvania), "Chronic Low Income and Its Effect on Unemployment" (May 18, 1955), pp. 6540-6541 in Congressional Record [annual bound version], Vol. 101, Part 5, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955.
212. Joseph A. Loftus, "Number of Poor in Slight Drop," New York Times, October 30, 1955, p. 65; and J.A. O'Leary, "Chronically Poor Are Still With Us Despite Seven Years of Prosperity," Washington Star, October 30, 1955. This is probably the first occurrence of newspaper stories about a year-to-year change in the low-income or poverty population (although the years in this case--1948 and 1954--were not consecutive).
213. U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Economic Report, Characteristics of the Low-Income Population and Related Federal Programs[--]Selected Materials Assembled by the Staff of the Subcommittee on Low-Income Families..., Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955, pp. 1-2 and 5-6. The report identified Eleanor M. Snyder as the subcommittee's economist (p. iv).
214. Economic Report of the President...1956, p. 208.
215. Characteristics of the Low-Income Population..., p. 7.
216. Characteristics of the Low-Income Population..., pp. 12-13.
217. Gabriel Kolko, "The American 'Income Revolution,'" Dissent, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter 1957, pp. 35-55.
218. Conference on Economic Progress, Consumption[:] Key to Full Prosperity[--]Toward Rising Living Standards..., Washington, D.C., May 1957, pp. 4 and 30-33.
219. John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, New York, New American Library, 1964 [original edition published in 1958], pp. 250-251 and 254.
220. Galbraith, p. 251, footnote 2.
221. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 4, Income of Families and Persons in Washington, D.C.: 1947, Washington, D.C., September 24, 1948, pp. 1-3; see also U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 5, Income of Families and Persons in the United States: 1947, Washington, D.C., February 7, 1949, p. 1.
222. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 27, Income of Families and Persons in the United States: 1956, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1958.
223. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 32, Slight Rise in Family Income in 1958 [advance data], Washington, D.C., October 22, 1959.
224. This is nicely illustrated in a June 1958 review of Galbraith's book in which the reviewer illustrates his objection to Galbraith's too-easy dismissal of the problem of American poverty by referring to families with incomes below $3,000; see Michael D. Reagan, "Private Wealth and Public Poverty" [review of John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society], Nation, Vol. 186, No. 24, June 14, 1958, pp. 546-547.
225. "State And Local Tax Burdens Must Be Fairly Shared," Labor's Economic Review, Vol. 4, No. 2, February 1959, p. 12.
226. "Aiding America's Lowest Income Families[--]Resolution No. 136" [September 22, 1959], pp. 303-306 in American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Proceedings of the Third Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO[--]Volume I[:] Daily Proceedings...September...1959.
227. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (Minnesota), "Banish Poverty From America[--]Extension of Remarks...", pp. 1862-1863 in Congressional Record (annual bound version), Vol. 106, Part 2, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960.
228. "Poverty: An Unresolved Problem[--]America's Haves and Have Nots," Labor's Economic Review, Vol. 5, No. 8, August 1960, p. 51.
229. Michael Harrington, The Other America[:] Poverty in the United States, Baltimore, Penguin Books, 1966 [original edition published in 1962], pp. 176, 178, and 185.
230. Michael Harrington, "Our Fifty Million Poor[:] Forgotten Men of the Affluent Society," Commentary, Vol. 28, No. 1, July 1959, pp. 19-20.
231. Robert J. Lampman, "The Low Income Population and Economic Growth" (Study Paper No. 12), pp. 1-36 in U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Study Papers Nos. 12 and 13[,] The Low Income Population and Economic Growth...The Adequacy of Resources for Economic Growth in the United States...Materials Prepared in Connection With the Study of Employment, Growth, and Price Levels... (December 16, 1959), Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959.
232. Nicholas Lemann, "The Unfinished War," Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 262, No. 6, December 1988, p. 43.
233. Robert Lampman, remarks as a panelist at the roundtable on "The 30th Anniversary of the War on Poverty: Economists and the Making of Antipoverty Policy Then and Now," Fifteenth Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Washington, D.C., October 30, 1993. See also Lampman, "The Low Income Population...", pp. 4 and 24-28.
234. When asked why he had applied the $2,000 figure to 1947 instead of 1948, Lampman said (personal communication, October 30, 1993) that he did not remember--but he then immediately mentioned that 1947 was the first year for which Current Population Survey were available.
235. Lampman, "The Low Income Population...", pp. 4-6 and 33-35.
236. Lampman, "The Low Income Population...", pp. 35 and 4-6 (for 1947 and 1957, respectively); and Lampman, "Population Change and Poverty Reduction, 1947-75," p. 23 in Leo Fishman (editor), Poverty amid Affluence, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1966 (for 1963 low-income lines).
237. Lampman, "The Low Income Population...", p. 5.
238. For details and footnotes, see Gordon M. Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds and Their Subsequent History as the Official U.S. Poverty Measure" (unpublished paper), May 1992, pp. 22-25.
239. Mollie Orshansky, "Commentary: The Poverty Measure," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 10, October 1988, p. 22.
240. Helen H. Lamale and Margaret S. Stotz, "The Interim City Worker's Family Budget," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 83, No. 8, August 1960, pp. 785-786 and 790.
241. H[orst] Brand, "Poverty in the United States," Dissent, Vol. 7, No. 4, Autumn 1960, pp. 334 and 338-339.
242. Federal Register, December 1, 1975, p. 55650; U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, The Measure of Poverty[:] A Report to Congress as Mandated by The Education Amendments of 1974, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1976, pp. 8 and 39.
243. U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Ideas For Leaders Working With Economy-Minded Families" (PA-937) ["PA" stands for "Program Aid"], Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1971--Slightly Revised April 1972. A 1973 Agricultural Research Service court deposition included the same sentence and added, "Studies show that as many as 10 percent of U.S. families may be operating on food budgets below the cost level of the economy food plan and that most of these families do not have nutritionally good diets"-- "Information about the USDA Economy Family Food Plan for Civil Action No. 2553.71 [Rodway] in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia" [typed--exact date not given], p. 5.
244. Eloise Cofer, Evelyn Grossman, and Faith Clark, Family Food Plans and Food Costs For nutritionists and other leaders who develop or use food plans (Home Economics Research Report No. 20), Washington, D.C., Consumer and Food Economics Research Division, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, November 1962. For the economy food plan, see in particular pp. 6, 8, 10, 25, and 31.
245. Faith Clark, "Background Statement on Derivation of Cost of 'Nutritious Economy Diet' Proposed for Pilot Food Stamp Plan," United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Household Economics Research Division, February 13, 1961. The memorandum indicated that the benefit amount for the proposed pilot food stamp plan was set "about 10 percent above the estimated cost of the Economy Budget [food plan]...to allow a greater chance for low-income families to achieve a nutritionally adequate diet" (p. 1--see also p. 4).
246. The memorandum indicated (p. 7, table 1, footnote 1) that "quantities of food suggested in Economy Plan" are "as yet unpublished, though similar to 'another Low-Cost Food Plan' in Helping Families Plan Food Budgets...." The publication cited is Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, Helping Families Plan Food Budgets, U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 662, Washington, D.C., December 1948. This publication and "Another Low-Cost Food Plan" which it contains are discussed above on p. 41 of this paper. As noted there, a version of this publication that was "[s]lightly revised" in February 1950 added a statement (p. 15) that this lower-cost food plan "should not be used as a basis for money allowances for food unless careful guidance in food management is provided at the same time."
247. Betty Peterkin, "Family Food Plans, Revised 1964," Family Economics Review, October 1964, p. 12. The words in question were used about the plan not because it was not nutritious (the foods in the plan would provide a nutritious diet), but because the selection of foods in the plan could become monotonous over an extended period of time (personal communications with Betty Peterkin, February 20, 1990, and April 22, 1992).
248. Lenore A. Epstein, "Some Effects of Low Income on Children and Their Families," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 2, February 1961, pp. 12-13; and Lenore A. Epstein, "Unmet Need in a Land of Abundance," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 5, May 1963, p. 7. Note that Orshansky had referred to the "taxable limit" concept in the unattributed material that she supplied for the record for the April 1960 Congressional hearing mentioned above.
249. Selma F. Goldsmith, "Low-Income Families and Measures of Income Inequality," Review of Social Economy, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 1962, pp. 1-19. (Comments on the paper by Alice Bourneuf and Thomas Divine were printed on pp. 20-25.)
250. Goldsmith, pp. 7-8 and 10-11.
251. Alice Bourneuf, "Comment" [on Goldsmith paper], p. 20.
252. For the month of publication, see the footnote on p. 13 of Sar A. Levitan, The Great Society's Poor Law[:] A New Approach to Poverty, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1969.
253. For the source of this AFL-CIO estimate, as noted above, see "Poverty: An Unresolved Problem[--]America's Haves and Have Nots," Labor's Economic Review, Vol. 5, No. 8, August 1960, p. 51.
254. Michael Harrington, The Other America[:] Poverty in the United States, Baltimore, Penguin Books, 1966 [original edition published in 1962], pp. 175-178.
255. Conference on Economic Progress, Poverty And Deprivation In The United States[:] The Plight Of Two-Fifths Of A Nation, Washington, D.C., April 1962. "This study has been directed by Leon H. Keyserling, with the assistance of Mary Dublin Keyserling, Lawrence A. Leonard, Philip M. Ritz, and Nettie S. Shapiro"--p. 7.
256. Poverty And Deprivation..., pp. 13-19 and 94-96.
257. Gabriel Kolko, Wealth and Power in America[:] An Analysis of Social Class and Income Distribution, New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1962, pp. 96-101.
258. Whether the CWFB was a continuation of the maintenance budget could be argued both ways. On the one hand, the article presenting the CWFB stated that the CWFB "is not a 'subsistence' or 'maintenance' budget..." (Kellogg and Brady, p. 137). On the other hand, the Congressional report formally conveying the request for what became the CWFB described it as a "cost- of-living study," and indicated that it was needed because the "statistics...showing the cost of living" in the maintenance budget were no longer being updated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. House of Representatives, "Department of Labor, Federal Security Agency, and Related Independent Offices Appropriation Bill, Fiscal Year 1946[--]Report [To accompany H.R. 3199]" (79th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 551), p. 6). Several years after Kolko's book was published, Ornati put the CWFB at his minimum adequacy level, with which the maintenance budget also essentially coincided.
259. Kolko, Wealth and Power..., pp. 97-100, 102, and 158 (footnote 15); see also Ornati, p. 9, and Kolko, "The American 'Income Revolution,'" pp. 46-48.
260. James N. Morgan, Martin H. David, Wilbur J. Cohen, and Harvey E. Brazer, with the assistance of Norma Meyers and Barbara Baldwin, Income and Welfare in the United States (a study by the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan), New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1962, pp. 188-191 and 449-450.
261. Mollie Orshansky, "Children of the Poor," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 7, July 1963, pp. 3-13.
262. For details and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 2-3 and 27-28. For the details of and the rationale for the food-plan-and-multiplier methodology that Orshansky used to develop her poverty thresholds in both this article and her January 1965 article, see "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (1992 version), pp. 4-19--summarized in Gordon M. Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 55, No. 4, Winter 1992, pp. 4-7.
263. For details and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 27-28 and 32-33. For the quotation, see Mollie Orshansky, "How poverty is measured," Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, February 1969, p. 38.
264. Chapter 2, pp. 55-84 in Economic Report of the President Transmitted to the Congress January 1964 Together With the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964.
265. "The Problem of Poverty...", pp. 58-59. The last sentence is further explicated in the following comment about poverty measurement: "It should be noted that the [possible] shift from money income to either consumption expenditures or personal income [defined in the previous sentence as "includ[ing] such nonmoney income as home-produced food and imputed rent"] is tantamount to a lowering of the poverty line just as surely as is adopting a lower money-income line"--Robert J. Lampman, "Population Change and Poverty Reduction, 1947-75," p. 19 in Leo Fishman (editor), Poverty amid Affluence, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1966.
266. For details and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 28-30-- summarized in Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, pp. 3-4.
267. Michael B. Katz, The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare, New York, Pantheon Books, 1989, p. 91.
268. Lampman, remarks as a panelist at the roundtable on "The 30th Anniversary of the War on Poverty: Economists and the Making of Antipoverty Policy Then and Now," Fifteenth Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Washington, D.C., October 30, 1993.
269. Note also that the first proposal in the United States (by Victor Fuchs) for a half-of-median-income poverty line was not published until the spring of 1965--two years after Lampman began his work using the $3,000 poverty line. (Fuchs' proposal is discussed on pp. 60-61 of this paper.)
270. From September 1963 through January 1967, the federal minimum wage rate under the Fair Labor Standards Act was $1.25 an hour (Annual Statistical Supplement, 1996 to the Social Security Bulletin, Table 3.B3, p. 162). If one assumes that a year-round worker worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, then at the $1.25 minimum wage rate, such a worker would have earned $2,600 a year.
271. A May 1963 article by Lenore Epstein indicated that under "present" federal tax laws, a family of four would start paying federal income taxes when its income reached $2,675. (This article is briefly discussed on p. 50 above.)
272. In 1960, the annual "budget" for a New York City family of four receiving "welfare" [Aid to Families with Dependent Children] was $2,660 (Ornati, p. 151 (see also pp. 11, 145, and 154); and J. Stouder Sweet, Poverty in the U.S.A. (Public Affairs Pamphlet No. 398), New York, Public Affairs Committee, Inc., January 1967, pp. 7-8). The $2,660 figure seems to have been an AFDC need standard (see Ornati, p. 11). To determine the largest amount actually being paid to a four-person AFDC family (with no other income) in the U.S. in 1962 or 1963 would require additional documentary research.
273. Herman P. Miller, "Statistics and Reality," New Leader, Vol. 47, No. 7, March 30, 1964, p. 15; and Burton A. Weisbrod, "The Economics of Poverty: An American Paradox," pp. 13-14 in Burton A. Weisbrod (editor), The Economics of Poverty, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965.
274. Lampman, "Population Change and Poverty Reduction...", p. 23 in Fishman (editor), Poverty amid Affluence.
275. For details and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 38-50-- summarized in Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, pp. 7-9. The 1968-1969 decision is discussed in more detail in Fisher, "Is There Such a Thing as an Absolute Poverty Line...", pp. 70-76.
276. Walter W. Heller, "Statement..." (March 17, 1964), pp. 27 and 30 in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Economic Opportunity Act of 1964[:] Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the War on Poverty Program...on H.R. 10440[,] A Bill to Mobilize the Human and Financial Resources of the Nation to Combat Poverty in the United States[--]Part 1.
277. "Income Limits Vary for Programs to Help Needy," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, Vol. 24, No. 14, April 8, 1966, p. 754.
278. Leon H. Keyserling, Progress Or Poverty[:] The U.S. At The Crossroads, Washington, D.C., Conference on Economic Progress, December 1964, pp. 15-17 and 22-23.
279. Mollie Orshansky, "Counting the Poor: Another Look at the Poverty Profile," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29.
280. For details (including the methodology Orshansky used to develop the thresholds and the rationale for it) and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 2, 4-19, and 31-33--summarized in Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, pp. 3-7.
281. Rose D. Friedman, Poverty[:] Definition and Perspective, Washington, D.C., American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, February 1965, pp. 21-24, 30-35, and 38-41.
282. In discussing Friedman's poverty lines, an August 1981 report commented that the approach Friedman used "is, by its very nature, subjective....There is no objective basis for deciding that the diets of 75 percent, instead of 78 percent, of families of a given size/composition should be required to meet the specified RDA standard. Deciding that meeting two-thirds of the RDA requirements constitutes nutritional adequacy is likewise based on subjective considerations. The level of the poverty threshold [could] be altered significantly by manipulating these percentages"--John Goodman and Marc Grainer, The Market Basket Approach for Deriving Poverty Thresholds: A Feasibility Study (research supported by Grant No. 30161, Community Services Administration), Washington, D.C., Technical Assistance Research Programs Institute (TARP), August 1981, p. 61.
283. Friedman, pp. 24-26.
284. Friedman, p. 12. That the acceptance of the principle of the income elasticity of the poverty line was not confined to liberals during the 1960's is further demonstrated by the following quotation from a 1964 Republican response to the January 1964 CEA report: "No objective definition of poverty exists. The definition varies from place to place and time to time. In America as our standard of living rises, so does our idea of what is substandard"--minority [Republican] views, p. 46 in U.S. Congress, 1964 Joint Economic Report[--]Report of the Joint Economic Committee...on the January 1964 Economic Report of the President With Minority and Additional Views, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964.
285. Victor R. Fuchs, "Toward a Theory of Poverty," pp. 71-91 in Task Force on Economic Growth and Opportunity, The Concept of Poverty, Washington, D.C., Chamber of Commerce of the United States, 1965. A number of people seem not to be aware of this paper, instead citing Fuchs' 1967 Public Interest article (cited below) when they discuss his relative definition of poverty.
286. However, note that Peter Townsend (the dean of post-World-War-II British poverty studies) had proposed this relative poverty definition in a paper published in a British journal three years earlier; see Peter Townsend, "The Meaning of Poverty," British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 13, No. 3, September 1962, pp. 221 and 223. (Specifically, Townsend proposed that a poverty line be set at half or two thirds of average household or family income.) Note also that Townsend no longer supports this relative definition of poverty, advocating instead that poverty be defined in terms of the concept of relative deprivation. (See, for instance, Townsend, Poverty in the United Kingdom[:] A Survey of Household Resources and Standards of Living, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1979, pp. 31-60 and 248-262; and Townsend, The International Analysis of Poverty, Hemel Hempstead, Great Britain, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993, pp. 33-37 and 56-58.)
287. Victor R. Fuchs, "Redefining poverty and redistributing income," Public Interest, No. 8, Summer 1967, pp. 88-95; and Victor R. Fuchs, "Comment" [on Lenore A. Epstein, "Measuring the Size of the Low-Income Population"], pp. 198-202 in Lee Soltow (editor), Six Papers on the Size Distribution of Wealth and Income (Studies in Income and Wealth, Volume Thirty-Three, by the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth), New York, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1969.
288. Fuchs, "Toward a Theory...", pp. 72-74.
289. Fuchs, "Redefining poverty...", p. 93.
290. For details and footnotes, see Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 33-36. A May 10, 1965, internal OEO briefing memorandum on the new poverty definition noted that while Orshansky's higher poverty thresholds derived from the low- cost food plan "cannot be characterized as excessive," the lower thresholds derived from the economy food plan had been selected as OEO's poverty definition "on the premise that the first order task of the War Against Poverty is to get at the hard-core poor."
291. As noted above (footnote 54), I have prepared an exhaustive compilation of the evidence for this conclusion in Fisher, "Is There Such a Thing as an Absolute Poverty Line...". The U.S. evidence in this paper is briefly summarized in one section of Fisher, "Disseminating...and Explaining...Versions of the Federal Poverty Measure" (forthcoming), and in Fisher, "Relative or Absolute...".
292. During the post-World-War-II period, it is true that more liberal poverty lines were already sometimes higher than the Johnson CEA's family poverty line, while conservative poverty lines were set much lower than the Johnson CEA or Orshansky figures.
293. Peter Townsend, "The Scale and Meaning of Poverty in Contemporary Western Society," p. 14 in Dependency and Poverty (1963-64 Colloquium Series Papers), Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, July 1965.
294. Fisher, "The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds..." (unpublished--1992 version), pp. 57-58--summarized in Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, pp. 9-10.
295. See Chambers, p. 6. For the profession of economics before World War
I, see William J. Baumol, "On Method in U.S. Economics a Century Earlier,"
American Economic Review, Vol. 75, No. 6, December 1985, pp. 1 and 11.