Panel: [DATA] The Supplemental Poverty Measure: Four Views from Four Surveys
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Thursday, November 6, 2014: 2:45 PM-4:15 PM
Acoma (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Christopher Wimer, Columbia University
Panel Chairs:  Connie Citro, National Academy of Sciences
Discussants:  Liana Fox, Stockholm University

How Rich Are the Elderly Poor? Examining Assets Among the Elderly Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure
Koji Chavez, Stanford University, Christopher Wimer, Columbia University and David Betson, University of Notre Dame

In 1995, the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance (NAS) released a report recommending revising the current official poverty measure. Their revised measure, though still somewhat narrowly defined, broadened the scope of the poverty measure to include non-cash benefits and spending on such items as medical expenses and work-related expenses including childcare and taxes -- items not explicitly included in the current measure. In 2010, an interagency working group headed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urged the Census Bureau to estimate a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) along with the current official poverty measure. Following this, the Census Bureau released its first three reports on the SPM that compared the new measure to the official measure. Both of these measures were estimated using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). This panel highlights the differences in using a variety of data sources to estimate poverty. Measures of poverty from the SIPP, the HRS, the PSID, and the ACS are compared to those using CPS data. This exercise provides insight into how well we are measuring income and poverty in the CPS and illustrates the importance of the data source to our understanding of measurement issues in general. Differences in sample design and data collection, however small, can have a significant effect on measurement outcomes. As is shown here, comparing measures of poverty from a variety of surveys, more than one measurement tool is important to form a real understanding of economic and social phenomena.
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