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Statement on Establishing a Modern Poverty Measure

Cauthen, Nancy K.

I am submitting comments on behalf of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) to express support for the ideas presented in the draft legislation, the “Measuring American Poverty Act.” The proposal addresses a number of issues I raised in testimony given a year ago at this subcommittee’s hearing on “Measuring Poverty in America” (Cauthen 2007). In brief, I argued that: Because poverty exacts such a high toll on our society, it is critical that we measure it in a meaningful way so that we can address it and measure the degree to which our anti-poverty policies are successful. The National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) 1995 recommendations for improving the official poverty measure offer the most promising – and efficacious – approach to creating a more accurate measure of income poverty. In a wealthy, advanced industrial society such as ours, it is imperative that we supplement measures of income poverty with additional indicators of the health and well-being of our nation’s citizens, especially our youngest. The draft bill addresses all of these points, at least to some degree. This statement further articulates why NCCP supports the substantive intent of the draft bill. It also outlines some additional steps that must be taken if we are to improve our nation’s ability to accurately assess the health and well-being of our citizens.

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National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University

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National Center for Children in Poverty
Published Here
February 22, 2019
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