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Understanding Poverty Measurement

American Enterprise Institute

October 17, 2023

COSM scholars and AEI affiliates include some of the nation’s foremost experts on poverty measurement. On October 17, COSM gathered several of these scholars to provide a primer on opportunity in the United States. Angela Rachidi began by exploring the meaning of poverty, outlining the most fundamental decisions in measuring it and describing how different measures address those decisions. Richard Burkhauser then discussed the history of poverty measurement, the weaknesses of the official poverty measure, and what an improved measure indicates about our success in reducing poverty. Next, Kevin Corinth spoke about the supplemental poverty measure, describing its shortcomings and the political machinations around this measure. Bruce Meyer followed with an exploration of the future of poverty measurement, highlighting the importance of underreporting of income in government surveys and the promise of poverty measures based on consumption.

The webinar concludes with two group discussions led by Angela. We hope this will be a useful resource to you in your work to help the most needy among us.