Beyond Poverty Line

Article published on Aug. 24, 2010
community published
Article published on Aug. 24, 2010
I came across and interesting article published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review couple days ago. The article discusses definition of poverty and need to redefine it. Here is an excerpt: " On July 13, 2008, New York City’s poverty rate was 18 percent. Twenty-four hours later it had ballooned to 23 percent. How did more than 400,000 New Yorkers become impoverished overnight?
The answer is that Mayor Michael Bloomberg adopted a new and more complex—and, he argued, more accurate—measure of poverty than the one the federal government uses. His action reignited a debate in Washington, D.C., and beyond about how America determines who is poor—a debate that many hope will be settled by the U.S. Congress this year.

Most people who care about measuring poverty—academics, policymakers, nonprofit leaders, and the like—agree that the way the federal government currently determines who is poor and who is not doesn’t work. The so-called “poverty line” was determined in the mid-1960s by calculating the amount of money it costs to buy a basic basket of food and then multiplying that amount by three. Each year the line is updated to account for inflation. (The current poverty line is $10,830 for a single person and $22,050 for a family of four.) If a person lives in a household whose income is less than that amount, he is considered poor. If the household’s income is that amount or more (even by one dollar), he is not poor. The measure does not consider other living costs besides food, and the federal poverty line is the same whether a person lives in New York City or McAlester, Okla."

Here is the link to full text.