Thursday, November 7, 2013
Critics have long held that the federal poverty line underestimates the real level of economic hardship in our society. Based largely on the market-basket price of groceries for households of various sizes, the official poverty measure has been criticized for failing to reflect the rising cost of other basic necessities, as well as changed consumption patterns over the past 50 years. A more realistic measure, the Self-Sufficiency Standard, is now being touted as superior as it takes into consideration how much income is minimally necessary to meet a list of key expenses for households of varying size and composition across diverse U.S. places, such that households would not have to receive welfare assistance. In this recent PBS NewsHour story, Dana Pearce of the University of Washington School of Social Work, discusses the measure she developed and how it is being used.