Saturday, November 5, 2011

New BETTER statistics on poverty in the United States!

READING, PA - OCTOBER 20: Clothes are displaye...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I'm kindof excited to see these articles about poverty.  We all have ideas about poverty, and I think most of us either underestimate or overestimate the actual poverty and suffering of the less fortunate in the United States.  I think a lot of us emphasize either those that are lazy or victims of their own poor decisions, or emphasize those that are legitimately suffering, such as those with medical conditions. 

Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest citie...Image via Wikipedia
Either way, new numbers that take into account things such as having food stamps, housing assistance, or government medical insurance, as well as differentiating by average cost of housing.  These were not accounted for by the official previous estimate, which made many 'poor' that aren't, and made many 'not poor' that actually are.

Differences in national income equality around...Image via Wikipedia
This doesn't answer politically divisive problems.  For example, very conservative people would suggest that Xboxes, cell phones, computers, large flat screened TVs, and other costly items shouldn't be common among the very poor, as they tend to be.  There was a percentage of income used for food decades ago, and the cost of food is a smaller percentage of the income of a person in poverty than it was before.  This measure would indicate poverty has dropped, but it is adjusted in the new numbers to allow a person to be poor and have a smaller percentage of income dedicated to food. 
Mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants 1...Image via Wikipedia

The measure for poverty, though still imperfect, is improving.  While probably not perfect, it may now function as a starting point in the dialogue about how to decrease it.      
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