This report presents data for calendar year 1995 on the social and economic characteristics of the population living below the poverty level. These data were compiled from information collected in the March 1996 Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the Bureau of the Census. The poverty definition used in most of this report was originally adopted for official government use by the Office of Management and Budget in 1969. Poverty status is defined by a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. Families or individuals with income below their appropriate poverty thresholds are classified as poor.
The official poverty definition is based on pre-tax money income only, excluding capital gains, and does not include the value of noncash benefits such as employer-provided health insurance, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, or public housing. In the early 1980's the Census Bureau embarked on separate research programs to examine: 1) the effect of government noncash benefits on poverty and 2) the effect of taxes on measures of the distribution of income. This report contains a section entitled "Alternative Definitions of Poverty'' which presents updated estimates of the incremental effects of benefits and taxes on poverty for 1995.1
The comparability of the data for 1995 with those from previous surveys is affected by three changes: 1) this year the March CPS is based entirely on the 1990 census sampling frame; 2) there was a reduction in the size of the sample in January 1996; and 3) people who indicate the "other race'' category are now allocated to a specific race category. (See page xiii.) This report also includes poverty statistics on the foreign-born population for the first time.
1 For more information on these estimates of the incremental effects of benefits and taxes on income, see the report entitled Money Income in the United States: 1995 (60-193).