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Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP1987-06 or SIPP-WP-27
Paul Ryscavage
Component ID: #ti1058910519

Every year, towards the end of summer, the Census Bureau releases its poverty statistics for the preceding calendar year. These data are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a survey of approximately 60,000 households. Frequently, the Bureau’s figures are disputed because of how poverty is defined and how it is measured in the CPS. As most observers of  the poverty and social welfare fronts know, the Federal government "statistically" defined poverty and began measuring it back in the 1960's. Despite their controversial nature, however, the Census Bureau's poverty data have been used by policy makers for setting the government’s poverty and social welfare policy for many years.

We have also learned much about the poor and the nature of poverty from the Census Bureau’s estimates. We know who the poor are, where they live, what Income sources they have, the extent to which they participate in the labor market, and so on. We also know how well we have done in combatting poverty (according to the official definition) over the last 25 years or so. But, as many observers have pointed out, the existing statistics from the CPS don't provide all the answers.

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