are reasonably congruent with each other, it may be possible to reach a consensus as to an appropriate realignment—just as the original SSA threshold for a family with two adults and two children commanded broad support in 1963.

It turns out that recently calculated thresholds for a two-adult/two-child family (or, in some cases, a four-person family) range from $17,200 to $21,800 (in 1992 dollars); see Table 1-3. By comparison, the official 1992 two-adult/two-child threshold is $14,228. (All the thresholds in Table 1-3 are after-taxes; however, they average the needs of families with and without other types of

TABLE 1-3 Poverty Thresholds for Two-Adult/Two-Child (or Four-Person) Families Set by Various Methods for 1989-1993, in 1992 Dollars (Rounded)

Type and Source of Threshold


Absolute Threshold


Official Orshansky, 1963: Economy Food Plan times 3.0, updated by the change in the CPI


Expert Budget Thresholds


Adaptation by the panel of Orshansky (1963, 1965a): food times a multiplier of 4.4


Adaptation by the panel of Ruggles (1990): housing times a multiplier of 3.3


Weinberg and Lamas (1993), version A: food plus housing times a multiplier of 2.0


Weinberg and Lamas (1993), version B: (food plus a higher housing standard times a multiplier of 2.0


Adaptation by the panel of Renwick and Bergmann (1993): budget for food, housing and household operations, transportation, health care, clothing, child care, and personal care


Schwarz and Volgy (1992): detailed budget for single-earner family


Relative Thresholds


One-half median after-tax four-person family income: extension of series developed by Vaughan (1993)


Adaptation by the panel of Expert Committee on Family Budget Revisions (1980): one-half average expenditures of four-person consumer units


Subjective Thresholds


1989 Gallup Poll "poverty" line: from Vaughn (1993)


1993 General Social Survey "poverty" line


SOURCE: See Chapter 2, especially Table 2-5.

NOTE: All thresholds are after-taxes except that survey respondents to the Gallup Poll and General Social Survey may not have answered the question on the poverty line in after-tax terms.

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