CEPR

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2019
Contact: Karen Conner, (202) 293-5380 x117, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC — “What does it mean to say only 2.3 percent of Americans live in poverty today, as LBJ supposedly defined it?” That’s an essential question at the heart of CEPR Senior Policy Fellow Shawn Fremstad’s critique of a recent National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper.

In today’s CEPR Blog, Fremstad not only critiques the NBER paper as having “little relevance to policymaking or policy evaluation today,” he uses that critique as a springboard to lay out a vision of what a modern poverty measure should address.

“When it comes to measuring poverty today, the important questions include 1) how much higher to set modern poverty thresholds; 2) how to update thresholds over short and long periods of time; 3) whether and how to take care-related needs and benefits into account (including health care, child care, and children’s development needs beyond housing, food, and clothing); and, 4) whether and how to take assets and debt, including debt repayment, into account.”

For more on poverty metrics, see Fremstad’s other recent work:

Inflation Inequality and the Poverty Measure

The Official US Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric

The Official Poverty Measure Has Defined Deprivation Down