Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

38 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2014  

Liana Fox

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)

Irwin Garfinkel

Columbia University - School of Social Work

Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jane Waldfogel

Columbia University - School of Social Work

Christopher Wimer

Columbia University

Date Written: January 2014

Abstract

Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the March Current Population Survey, we calculate historical poverty estimates based on the new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from 1967 to 2012. During this period, poverty as officially measured has stagnated. However, the official poverty measure (OPM) does not account for the effect of near-cash transfers on the financial resources available to families, an important omission since such transfers have become an increasingly important part of government anti-poverty policy. Applying the SPM, which does count such transfers, we find that historical trends in poverty have been more favorable than the OPM suggests and that government policies have played an important and growing role in reducing poverty --- a role that is not evident when the OPM is used to assess poverty. We also find that government programs have played a particularly important role in alleviating child poverty and deep poverty, especially during economic downturns.

Suggested Citation

Fox, Liana and Garfinkel, Irwin and Kaushal, Neeraj and Waldfogel, Jane and Wimer, Christopher, Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (January 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w19789. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2374583

Liana Fox (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) ( email )

Kyrkgatan 43B
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

Irwin Garfinkel

Columbia University - School of Social Work ( email )

622 W. 113th Street
MC 4600
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-8489 (Phone)
212-854-7200 (Fax)

Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work ( email )

622 W. 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jane Waldfogel

Columbia University - School of Social Work ( email )

622 W. 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Christopher Wimer

Columbia University ( email )

No Address Available

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