Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Census and Poverty

The official measure of poverty in the U.S. Census completed in 2010 doesn't reflect the progress we've made over the years. 1) The Census does not count the benefits of anti-poverty programs, which have expanded sharply over the past 40 years [Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, SCHIP, WIC, TANF, food stamps, and housing subsidies]. 2) It accounts for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, a benchmark that is slow to incorporate new consumer products (it took 15 years to include cell phones), misses changes in the quality of goods, and doesn't fully reflect the low prices at big-box stores such as Wal-Mart. CNN Opinion, Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan

"A better way to determine who is suffering from the current recession is to look at people's spending, which includes things like housing, food, and other goods they are able to enjoy. Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for consumption in 2009, like the Census figures, also indicate a rise in poverty, but tell a very different story about who is suffering most from the current recession. . ." Census poverty figures show no change for the elderly, but consumption/spending figures do. Using those figures poverty has decreased since 1980.

If these poverty calculations are revised, I suspect it will be in time for the 2012 elections, so that Obama can show that instead of increasing poverty, his administration has decreased it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Income transfers to keep the poor in their place so they can buy things is hardly progress in my book.