11.23.2009 Policy Points

Measuring Poverty

In recent months, analysts and policy leaders in Washington have been looking at ways of updating the outmoded federal poverty measurement. In a commentary in the publication Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, analyst Annette Case explains why the debate matters and why policymakers must take a broad view of economic hardship. Writes Case:

The purpose for measuring economic deprivation and developing and enacting policies that reduce economic deprivation is to assure opportunities to sustain and grow the middle class and to reduce poverty. The current outdated official measure of poverty, as well as one proposed replacement, provides only half of the information we are looking fo – how poorly people are faring, No official and reliably reported measure exists that tells us how many people are making ends meet or the extent to which they have become economically secure. This part of the story falls off the radad when we engage om debate about the measure of poverty. A strong middle class is essential to a vibrant economy and well-functioning democracy. Adopting a measure of economic security will better support policies that encourage economic mobility and a fair shot at the middle class.

Case’s commentary is part of an ongoing series exploring the question of poverty measurement.

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