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Measuring Poverty: A New Approach
for housing, which include shelter costs, fuel (with slightly higher allowances in the modest budget), interior decoration, and maintenance (the latter only in the modest budget); food at home, food away from home, and alcohol (the latter two categories in the modest budget only); clothing; household goods and services (including such things as furniture, kitchenware, stationery, postage, telephone services, and dry cleaning); personal care; medical care; transportation; leisure goods and services (including such goods as a television, sporting equipment, toys, Christmas decorations, and such services as home-based activities, sport and physical exercise, and social and cultural activities). Standards were drawn from a combination of government standards (e.g., for housing) and expenditure patterns.
BLS Family Budgets Program
The modern BLS Family Budgets Program had its origins in a 1945 directive from the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives for BLS to determine how much it cost workers' families in large U.S. cities to live. Since the turn of the century, private groups and some local and state agencies had developed detailed budgets for various types of families and geographic locations (generally individual cities), for such purposes as determining relief payments and government pay scales. A few such budgets were also developed by BLS and later the Works Progress Administration (WPA) (see Expert Committee on Family Budget Revisions, 1980; Fisher, 1993). After World War II, Congress wanted BLS to revamp the old WPA budgets, and this resulted in a series of budgets. In 1948 BLS published a "modest but adequate" budget for 1946 for urban working families, priced separately for 34 cities. In 1960 BLS published a revision of this budget for 1959, which was derived using data from the 1950 CEX. In 1967 BLS published a further revision of the budget for 1966, which it termed a "moderate living standard" and derived using data from the 1960-1961 CEX. Finally, in 1969, BLS published a revision of the moderate budget for 1967 (also derived using 1960-1961 CEX data), together with higher and lower budgets developed by scaling the moderate budget up and down.17 Between revisions, the budgets were repriced by using augmented price data collected for the CPI, or, after 1966, by using changes in the appropriate components of the CPI (see Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1969; Sherwood, 1977). In 1981 BLS discontinued the Family Budgets Program for lack of funds to improve it.
BLS initially developed the higher, moderate (or intermediate), and lower budget levels for two family types: a four-person family with a husband aged 38 and employed full-time, a homemaker wife (with no age specified), a girl of 8, and a boy of 13; and a retired couple aged 65 or over in reasonably good
The moderate budget was later termed the intermediate budget level.