This report presents social and economic characteristics of the population below the poverty level in 1986 based on the March 1987 Current Population Survey (CPS). The poverty definition used here is that adopted for official Government use by the Office of Management and Budget and consists of a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. Families or individuals with income below their appropriate threshold are classified as below the poverty level. These poverty statistics exclude inmates of institutions, Armed Forces members in barracks, and unrelated individuals under 15 years of age. The poverty thresholds are updated every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. For example, the average poverty threshold for a family of four was $11,203 in 1986 and $10,989 in 1985. These thresholds are based on money income only and do not include the value of noncash benefits such as employer-provided health insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid. For further discussion, see the section entitled "Collection and Limitations of Poverty Data."
The data in the report consist of cross classifications of poverty status by such characteristics as age, race, sex, family relationship, educational attainment, work experience, and type of income received. Although the primary focus of these data is on the United States as a whole, some tables also show data by region and type of residence. The text under the heading "Poverty in 1986" was drawn from the advance report, Series P-60, No. 157, Money Income and Poverty Status of Families and Persons in the United States: 1986. In the text, the terms "poverty population," "poor," and "below the poverty level" are used interchangeably, as are the terms "nonpoor" and "above the poverty level." Characteristics such as age and marital status are as of the survey date (March 1987), while income, poverty, and work experience data refer to the whole previous calendar year (e.g., 1986). In the report, the reference year cited refers to the "income" year.
Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.