Good news on poverty!

While poverty is still a big problem, a study, entitled Dimensions of Progress: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession, from Brookings shows that there is reason to hope. They argue that the official measure of poverty does not account for all of the factors it should…

…a large literature has pointed out various flaws in the official poverty measure, including a narrow definition of income, an odd adjustment for family size, and a biased adjustment for price changes… [from page 1 of the Report (pdf)*]

And the report demonstrates that…

Official poverty statistics suggest that poverty has increased over the past forty years. This claim is inconsistent with our results which show substantial improvements in income based poverty over the past forty years and even larger improvements in consumption based poverty, especially in the last decade. These poverty results are corroborated by other indicators of well-being for those with low income such as increases in car ownership and evidence of improved living conditions including larger living units that are more likely to have air conditioning and other features. [from page 37 of the Report(pdf)*]

There are interesting policy implications that could arise from this, so it is definitely worth a read. Click here for access to the full report.

*Meyer, B. D. & Sullivan, J. X. (2012). Dimensions of Progress: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession (Conference draft presented at the Fall 2012 Brookings Panel on Economic Activity September 13-14, 2012). Unknown: Brookings. Retrieved from

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