National Academies Press: OpenBook

Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (1995)

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Suggested Citation:"Content." National Research Council. 1995. Measuring Poverty: A New Approach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4759.
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APPENDIX B 396 percent overlap in the sample for poverty estimates from year-toyear. The sample size is about 60,000 households. The sample covers the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. The March supplement also includes military in civilian housing and an additional sample of 2,500 housing units that had contained at least one adult of Hispanic origin as of the preceding November interview. The reporting unit is the household, with unrelated individuals and families also identified. The respondent is each household member aged 15 and older, but proxy responses are readily accepted. Interviews are in person for the first month and then by telephone to the extent possible. People who leave a sampled address are not followed. (Response rates and other aspects of data quality are reviewed below.) A major redesign of the CPS was recently implemented (see Cohany, Polivka, and Rothgeb, 1994). The redesign includes respecification of the sample design on the basis of information from the 1990 census about the geographic distribution and other characteristics of the population, changing the data collection mode to computer-assisted personal interviewing and computer- assisted telephone interviewing (CAPI/CATI), and making important wording changes to the core questions on labor force participation. No changes were made to the March income supplement (except to put the questionnaire into a CAPI/CATI format), but the responses may be affected by one or more aspects of the redesign of the core survey. Content The content of the core CPS interview includes • demographic characteristics; and • labor force participation, hours worked, reason for part-time work, reason for temporary absence from job, industry and occupation in prior week, job search behavior in the previous 4 weeks if not working and when last worked, usual hours and usual earnings, union membership, reason left last job, and reasons for looking for work (for selected rotation groups). The content of the March supplement includes • labor force participation and job history in the prior calendar year for each household member aged 15 or older; • annual income for the prior calendar year for each household member aged 15 or older by detailed source—about 30 types of regular cash income are identified separately, including wages and salaries, net self-employment income, Social Security for oneself or a spouse, Social Security for one's children, railroad retirement, unemployment compensation, veterans' compensation, black lung payments, disability payments, SSI, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), other welfare, child support, alimony, private

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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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