National Academies Press: OpenBook

Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (1995)

Chapter: Asset Holdings

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Suggested Citation:"Asset Holdings." National Research Council. 1995. Measuring Poverty: A New Approach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4759.
Page 408

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APPENDIX B 408 SIPP obtains considerably more detailed information, distinguishing among coverage provided by the following programs: Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPUS, CHAMPVA, military health insurance, current employer or union health insurance, former employer health insurance, and other health insurance. Coverage is ascertained every 4 months for Medicare and every month for the other programs. SIPP also determines which children in the household are covered under Medicaid or other health insurance. With regard to out-of-pocket medical insurance and medical care costs, the March CPS obtains no information. SIPP asks each panel once about last month's unreimbursed medical care costs. Child Care and Other Work Expenses The March CPS asks no questions about child care arrangements or costs or other work expenses. (Occasionally, supplements in other months have included questions on child care arrangements and costs.) SIPP obtains information once each panel on last month's dependent care costs incurred to enable a household member to be employed. All panels to date have also included a module on child care that asks detailed information about child care arrangements and costs. The 1984-1987 panels included a module on work expenses, including commuting and other costs. Child Support Payments The March CPS asks no questions about children outside the household or about payments to support such children. All SIPP panels to date have included a detailed module on child support. Asset Holdings The March CPS asks no questions about the value of asset holdings or liabilities, but information is obtained on whether the house is owned or being bought or is rented. Questions are also asked on total income in the prior year from interest on investments (e.g., savings accounts, certificates of deposit); dividends from stocks and mutual funds; and net income from rent (including income from rented property, roomers or boarders, and royalties). SIPP obtains detailed information on asset ownership (and income flows) every 4 months. SIPP also obtains a detailed balance sheet of financial and property assets once each panel, and some assets are valued twice a panel (see Citro and Kalton, 1993: Table 3-2). Nonresponse rates are low for the core asset ownership questions, for example, about 1 percent for savings accounts and stocks; but they are generally high for the questions on 4-month income flows, for example, 30-35 percent for interest and 30 percent for reinvested dividends (Jabine, King, and Petroni, 1990: Table 5.5). After imputation for nonresponse, SIPP obtains an estimated 80 percent of the dividend income reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS; compared with 61% in the March CPS) and an estimated

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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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