This report presents data for calendar year 1996 on the social and economic characteristics of the population living below the poverty level. These data were compiled from information collected in the March 1997 Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the Census Bureau. 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 1980s the Census Bureau embarked on separate research programs to examine the effect of government noncash benefits on poverty and the effect of taxes on measures of the distribution of income. This report has a section entitled "Alternative Definitions of Poverty'' which presents updated estimates of the incremental effects of benefits and taxes on poverty for 1996.1
1 For more information on the incremental effects of benefits and taxes on income, see the report entitled Money Income in the United States: 1996 (P60-197).
(The figures in parentheses denote 90-percent confidence intervals.)