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Measuring Poverty: A New Approach
individuals living in one- and two-person units who have somewhat lower thresholds than do the nonelderly because they are assumed to need less food.
There are also a number of disturbing irregularities in the current scale. If there are economies of scale as family size increases, then the increment in the scale for an additional person should be lower for larger families. Yet as Ruggles (1990:66) has pointed out, this is not true of the current scale: on a weighted average basis relative to a single adult (as seen in Table 3-1), a second person in a family adds 0.29 to the scale, a third person adds only 0.24, a fourth person adds 0.43, and a fifth person adds 0.31. In some cases, single-parent families have higher thresholds than married-couple families of the same size, implying that children cost more than adults in certain size families. As one example, the child in a two-person single-parent family adds more to the family's costs than does the spouse in a married-couple family: see Figure 3-1, which graphs—separately for married-couple and single-parent families—the increment in the scale for each added family member relative to a single
FIGURE 3-1 Equivalence scale implicit in the current poverty thresholds: increment for each added family member (relative to a scale value of 1.00 for a single adult under age 65). SOURCE: Data from Bureau of the Census (1993c: Table A).