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THE POVERTY MEASURE AND AFDC 335 8 The Poverty Measure and AFDC In addition to reviewing the statistical measure of poverty, the panel was asked to consider issues of benefit levels for government family assistance programsâin particular, a national minimum benefit standard for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Currently, there are large differences in AFDC benefit standards across states, and no state provides benefits as generous as the official poverty thresholds. Federal policy makers have several times considered enacting a uniform minimum benefit standard that would provide a nationwide floor for AFDC benefits. The congressional debate over the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988 included proposals for a national minimum benefit, but they were not accepted, largely because of the sizable estimated budgetary costs to the government. The FSA did request a study of minimum benefit standards, however, and this chapter responds to that request. We considered conceptual and statistical issues involved in setting a national minimum benefit standard for AFDC, just as we considered such issues for the poverty line. In our review, we focused on the nature of the relationship between program benefit levels (whether in AFDC or other cash and near-cash assistance programs) and a measure of poverty (whether ours or another), and we show why that relationship is indirect at best. We also considered the relationship of the proposed poverty measure to AFDC standards of need. AFDC is unique among cash and near-cash assistance programs in that the states are required to establish a standard of need but are not required toâand often do notâuse this standard to determine actual benefits. (See Appendix D for details of the AFDC program.)