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Impact of Modernizing the American Poverty Measure on the Poverty Status of Older Persons

The current official poverty rate does not provide adequate information about who is poor or whether key programs are helping to make progress against poverty.

According to a new PPI Fact Sheet by Ke Bin Wu of the AARP Public Policy Institute, The current official poverty measure understates persons age 65 or older in poverty, largely because it is based on outdated food consumption patterns and ignores the cost of health care. In 2008, the experimental poverty rate for persons age 65 older was 18.7 percent, which was almost double their current official poverty rate.

A new U.S. poverty measure is sorely needed.  The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that will be produced by the Bureau of the Census in 2011 and the Measuring American Poverty (MAP) Act of 2009 provide significant opportunities to generate a new official poverty measure.