U.S. poverty declines sharply in recent decades: study
CHICAGO, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Unlike the poverty estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday, a study conducted by U.S. researchers concludes that U.S. poverty has fallen sharply over the decades.
In the report, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates poverty in the United States at 12.7 percent for 2016, which is very close to the rate in 1980, suggesting little progress or change in the fight against poverty.
Looking at poverty patterns in the United States from early 1960s to 2016, the researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame found contradictory results to studies that have shown little improvement in poverty over time.
The official poverty measure is flawed, as income statistics have become increasingly inaccurate over time and consumption more accurately reflects well-being of people, according to Bruce Meyer, the McCormick Foundation Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and James Sullivan, Associate Professor of Economics at Notre Dame.
Using consumption instead of income as benchmark to measure the poverty condition, Meyer and Sullivan on Tuesday published "Annual Report on U.S. Consumption Poverty: 2016."
The report shows that between 1960 and 2016, consumption poverty fell by 27 percentage points, which means big improvement on poverty elimination for U.S. government.
The researchers said changes in tax policy, along with Social Security and other transfer programs help to reduce poverty.
"Many factors that are critical components of well-being, such as home ownership, car ownership, and the ability to borrow and save, are much better captured by consumption than income," Meyer said. "Our research has shown that consumption-based poverty is more highly associated with other measures of family deprivation."
Meyer and Sullivan's report is based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey in more than 50 years.