has not played an active role in the debate about the underlying concepts and does not have research or operational capabilities.

Based on past practice, it seems likely that the Statistical Policy Office of OMB will convene an interagency group representing program and statistical agencies to review this report and determine the response to our recommendations. On the assumption that OMB will play this role, we believe the Statistical Policy Office is the appropriate office to oversee implementation of our recommendations if they are accepted and to manage the 10-year review process. Obviously, the Census Bureau will have a major role to play, not only in publishing statistics under the new measure, but also in implementing needed data improvements and conducting research on various aspects of the measure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also have an important role in light of our recommendations for deriving and updating the reference family poverty threshold from consumer expenditure data (see below). Other agencies can also make important contributions to the continued improvement of the measure, as can researchers at academic institutions. In this regard, we urge OMB to seek the involvement of all appropriate agencies in the implementation and continued improvement of the poverty measure.

RECOMMENDATION 1.3. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget should adopt a revised poverty measure as the official measure for use by the federal government. Appropriate agencies, including the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, should collaborate to produce the new thresholds each year and to implement the revised definition of family resources.

RECOMMENDATION 1.4. The Statistical Policy Office of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget should institute a regular review, on a 10-year cycle, of all aspects of the poverty measure: reassessing the procedure for updating the thresholds, the family resource definition, etc. When changes to the measure are implemented on the basis of such a review, concurrent poverty statistics series should be run under both the old and the new measures to facilitate the transition.

The Poverty Threshold

To understand fully the concept we recommend for developing and updating the poverty threshold and why we recommend it, the reader should keep several things in mind. First, the proposed threshold concept applies to a reference family, which we recommend be a family of two adults and two children.11 It is possible with some concepts to develop thresholds indepen-


It is important for technical reasons relating to the equivalence scale for the reference family to fall in the middle of the size distribution. Of course, the four-person family is not the predominant living arrangement in American society. Of all households (including family households and those headed by unrelated individuals), the single largest type consists of adults living alone (25% in 1992), followed by married couples with no other family member (22%). Four-person families, comprising a married couple and two other family members, are the next largest group (13%). However, such four-person families are the modal type in terms of how many people they represent: in 1992, they accounted for 20 percent of all people, compared with 17 percent for married couples living alone, and 10 percent for single-adult households (Rawlings, 1993: Table 16).

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