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Poverty Using Official and Experimental Measures

The current official poverty measure, which the federal government uses both in publishing statistics on income and in setting eligibility standards for certain public programs, was developed in the early 1960s. Only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1965. In response to a Congressional committee's request for an independent scientific study of poverty, the National Academy of Science (NAS) established the Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance which developed a new experimental approach to poverty measurement.

For this AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Brief, Ke Bin Wu used the Census Bureau report and his analysis found that the NAS's experimental poverty rates are significantly higher than the current official poverty rates, particularly for older persons. (13 pages)