National Academies Press: OpenBook

Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (1995)


Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Measuring Poverty: A New Approach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4759.
Page 390

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APPENDIX A 390 after making adjustments to countable income, concludes that families living near the current poverty line have fewer countable resources than they would have under the current poverty measure. CONCLUSION I dissent because the report's recommendations—to choose three particular commodities upon which to base the calculation of poverty and to exclude other commodities; to establish a normative range of values within which the poverty line should fall; to increase the poverty line over time to account for perceived improvements in the standard of living; and to exclude medical expenses from family resources—are the outcome of highly subjective judgements. These are judgements that do not result from scientific inquiry and, therefore, in my opinion, are improperly placed in this report. I do not believe that this report will be the basis for improving the measurement of poverty because its recommendations are not based on scientific evidence. To my disappointment, the panel has missed an extraordinary opportunity to enlighten and inform government officials about problems of measuring poverty and about the solutions to those problems. REFERENCES Grossman, M. 1972 On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. Journal of Political Economy 80(March/April):223-255. Newhouse, Joseph P. 1972 Free for All? Lessons from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Pauly, M.V. 1968 The economics of moral hazard: Comment. American Economic Review 58:535.

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Each year's poverty figures are anxiously awaited by policymakers, analysts, and the media. Yet questions are increasing about the 30-year-old measure as social and economic conditions change.

In Measuring Poverty a distinguished panel provides policymakers with an up-to-date evaluation of:

  • Concepts and procedures for deriving the poverty threshold, including adjustments for different family circumstances.
  • Definitions of family resources.
  • Procedures for annual updates of poverty measures.

The volume explores specific issues underlying the poverty measure, analyzes the likely effects of any changes on poverty rates, and discusses the impact on eligibility for public benefits. In supporting its recommendations the panel provides insightful recognition of the political and social dimensions of this key economic indicator.

Measuring Poverty will be important to government officials, policy analysts, statisticians, economists, researchers, and others involved in virtually all poverty and social welfare issues.

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