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Alternative Poverty Estimates in the United States: 2003

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Report Number P60-227


The official poverty rate and the number of people in poverty are important measures of the country's economic wellbeing. These measures, developed in the 1960s, have been criticized, however, because they do not reflect changes in public policies since then, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the use of in-kind benefits such as food stamps.

This report explains how the official poverty measure was computed, how several series of alternative estimates were developed, and how the alternative and official measures offer different profiles of people in poverty. The data in this report were obtained from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS), collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from February through April 2004.


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