The New Measure of Poverty: Effects on the Family, Economy

The Census Bureau recently released a revised method of measuring poverty in the United States this past week. The Census Bureau published 6 main points why there needed to be a change in the way the US was calculating the amount of individuals living in poverty. This report was created was to measure a more up to date version of what poverty looks like in the 2010’s. The measure the Census Bureau had been using was from the 1960’s and had not been accounting for increases in inflation nation-wide, nor increases in standards of living and access to service use depending on geographic locations.

NPR got the chance to interview a single mother, asking what her thoughts were on the change and her reaction was positive: “Things that actually matter to people — things that are actually happening for people — should be included, such as the amount of rent that they pay” (Fessler, http://www.npr.org/2011/11/07/142105558/new-measure-shows-higher-poverty-rate-in-u-s). By including day to day prices families in poverty accrue will allow for a well-rounded approach to addressing and measuring poverty.

Economists are not nearly as excited about this new measurement. The idea that additions to measurements of poverty are misleading factors. Robert Rector, a conservative economist, states that “Over 80 percent of poor families have air conditioning, two-thirds of them have cable TV, half of them have computers, a third of them have widescreen HDTVs”.

While there is a divide on the effectiveness of this new measurement of poverty in the US, there is no denying that there is an overall increase in Latino’s in poverty. The Wall Street Journal wrote “In 2010, 37.3% of poor children were Latino; 30.5% were white and 26.6% were black” (Jordan,http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203405504576599254129051180.html?KEYWORDS=poverty).

No matter how we measure poverty in the US, there is a disproportionate amount of Latino children in poverty.While economists argue over the legitimacy of the poverty measurement reform, it is clear that there needs to be an overall decrease in the amount of children living in poverty, especially the nearly 40% of Latino children.

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