Sunday, January 8, 2012

I've talked in the past about the flaws in the measurement of the poverty line, and the Obama administration has responded by introducing a new method of measuring poverty, which appears to be even worse. Mikey Kaus quotes Richard Bavier, formerly of the OMB, but now with the left-leaning Brookings Institution:
[T]he New Poverty Line line isn’t really a measure of what people need. For one thing, it starts its calculations at “the 30th to 35th percentiles of spending on food, clothing and shelter by two-adult, two-child families", who are among the most prosperous families, compared with say, one parent, two child families–indeed, even at the 33d percentile their income is apparently above the median income for all families of all types. (There seems to be some complicated fiddling with this measure to bring it a little more back in line with reality, which only adds to the New Poverty Line’s incomprehensibility.)

The New Poverty line is (most importantly, to my mind) not an absolute measure like the familiar Old Poverty Line. It is a moving goal post that rises as others in society get richer–a measure of inequality, in this sense, not poverty. …
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