National Academies Press: OpenBook

Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (1995)

Chapter: APPENDIX C The Interdependence of Time and Money

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Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C The Interdependence of Time and Money." National Research Council. 1995. Measuring Poverty: A New Approach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4759.
Page 421

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APPENDIX C 421 APPENDIX C The Interdependence of Time and Money In the panel's primary focus on the measurement of poverty in the United States, we discuss the rationale for, and the measurement of, a concept of poverty based on the lack of family resources needed to obtain an adequate level of food, clothing, shelter, and a little more. Setting the poverty threshold, we suggest, should be informed by the actual level of expenditure on these commodities by consumer units, with the threshold determined as an appropriate fraction of the median expenditure by a reference family type, with a small additional amount to allow for other expenditures. The concept of poverty that we contend should be used as the U.S. official poverty measure—economic poverty—is based on having the money or near- money resources needed for consumption. We stress at several points in the volume that this concept of poverty should not be considered the only relevant measure of deprivation. A measure of economic poverty should be supplemented by other measures that might reflect psychological deprivation, exposure to extreme risks of physical harm, illiteracy, lack of adequate medical care, and so forth. In this appendix we address an issue that is neither as separable from the measure of economic poverty as psychological or even health-related factors are, nor as easily incorporated into an economic measure as the flow of services from owned homes might be: how to treat the valuable resource of time. Because of the unique problems posed by this one issue, we devote this appendix to considering it alone.

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Measuring Poverty: A New Approach Get This Book
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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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