Examining the Effect of the Supplemental Poverty Measurement Unit: Using the American Community Survey

Alemayehu Bishaw, U.S. Census Bureau

The Interagency Technical Working Group on the Supplemental Poverty Measure issued a series of suggestions on how to develop a new poverty measure. Their suggestions drew on the recommendations of a 1995 NAS report and extensive researches on poverty measurement. One suggestion of this group was that the unit of analysis for the poverty measure be expanded from the traditional Census family definition (coresident individuals related by blood, marriage or adoption) to include unmarried partners, unrelated children under age 15 and foster children. To examine the effect of this recommendation, this paper uses data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to identify households with unmarried partners, unrelated children under 15 years and foster children and reevaluates their poverty status. This paper also examines national trends in the prevalence of these types of households. The paper concludes with a discussion comparing the official poverty rates with the poverty rates calculated using the new “poverty measurement unit.”

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Presented in Poster Session 6