Testimony on Measuring Poverty in America

Cauthen, Nancy K.

Thank you, Chairman McDermott and members of the subcommittee for this opportunity to testify. I’d like to begin by thanking you for holding this hearing and addressing the important issue of how we measure poverty. My name is Nancy Cauthen, and I am the Deputy Director of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). NCCP is a policy research organization at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Our mission is to promote the health, economic security, and well-being of America’s most vulnerable children and families. NCCP uses research to identify problems and find solutions at the state and national levels. My testimony will address the following points: Child and family poverty exact a high toll on our society, so it is critical that we measure it in a way that allows us to best identify who needs assistance and what kinds of assistance.; Although the National Academy of Sciences 1995 recommendations and subsequent refinements for updating the official poverty measure offer the most promising approach, the thresholds would still be too low to identify all those who need help.; To improve child and family well-being, we must address not only income poverty but also material hardship.; Family budgeting approaches provide an alternative way to understand what it takes for families to meet their basic needs and to achieve a reasonable standard of living.

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National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University

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National Center for Children in Poverty
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February 26, 2019