The Poverty of the Poverty Rate: Measure and Mismeasure of Material Deprivation in Modern America

The Poverty of the Poverty Rate: Measure and Mismeasure of Material Deprivation in Modern America

by Nicholas Eberstadt


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780844742465
Publisher: Aei Press
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Pages: 196
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Eberstadt is the Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Why This Book 3

A Road Map for This Study 5

1 What Is the Official Poverty Rate, and What Does It Actually Measure? 6

2 Poverty Trends in Modern America, According to the Official Poverty Rate 12

3 The Official Poverty Rate versus Other Statistical Indicators Bearing on Material Deprivation in America: Growing Discrepancies and Contradictions 17

4 Systematic Differences between Income and Expenditures among Poorer Households in Modern America: A Blind Spot for the Official Poverty Rate 28

Unresolved Technical Criticisms of the Federal Poverty Measure 29

Contrasting Measures of Material Standing: Income versus Consumption, Consumer Expenditures, and Consumer Outlays 33

Income versus Expenditures for Lower-Income Americans: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey 36

Do Reported Expenditures Understate Consumption Levels for Lower-Income Households? 40

The Declining Reliability of Income as a Predictor of Household Budgets for Poverty-Level Families 44

5 Accounting for the Widening Reported Gap between Income and Consumption for Lower-Income Americans 48

Unsustainable "Overspending" by the Poor? 49

Changes in CE Survey Methods and Practices 57

Income Underreporting 59

Increased Year-to-Year Income Variability 63

A Continuing Puzzle 73

6 Trends in Living Standards for Low-Income Americans: Indications from Physical and Biometric Data 76

The Principal Categories of Expenditures of Low-Income Consumers 78

Food and Nutrition 80

Housing and Home Appliances 82

Transportation 86

Health and Medical Care 88

Living Standards for America's Poor: ConstantProgress under a "Constant" Measure 95

Conclusion: Wanted-New Poverty Measure(s) for Modern America 98

The Case against the Official Poverty Rate 98

Don't "Mend" It-End It 102

New Directions 107

Appendix 111

Notes 127

Bibliography 153

Index 167

About the Author 175

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