NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Liana Fox, Irwin Garfinkel, Neeraj Kaushal, Jane Waldfogel, Christopher Wimer

NBER Working Paper No. 19789
Issued in January 2014
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   EFG   PE

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.

download in pdf format
   (1055 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (1055 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19789

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Chetty, Hendren, Kline, Saez, and Turner w19844 Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends in Intergenerational Mobility
Bussiere, Cheng, Chinn, and Lisack w19791 For a Few Dollars More: Reserves and Growth in Times of Crises
Ben-Shalom, Moffitt, and Scholz w17042 An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States
Bailey and Duquette w19860 How Johnson Fought the War on Poverty: The Economics and Politics of Funding at the Office of Economic Opportunity
Grogger w8153 The Effects of Time Limits and Other Policy Changes on Welfare Use, Work, and Income Among Female-Headed Families
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us