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New Release: Income Poverty and Multiple Deprivations in a High-Income Country: The Case of the United States

by User Not Found | Apr 26, 2016

Social Science Quarterly - DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12291

by Sophie Mitra, PhD* and Debra Brucker MPA, PhD

Abstract: Objectives – The objective of this study was to develop a poverty measure for the United States (U.S.) that is similar to those used on the international stage, where poverty is understood broadly as a deprivation of wellbeing across multiple dimensions rather than purely as a lack of income or other financial resources. Methods – Using Current Population Survey and American Community Survey data, this study  develops a measure of the joint distribution of multiple deprivations in the U.S., in other words a measure of the extent to which different deprivations are experienced by the same individuals.  Results - The experience of multiple deprivations affects 15 percent of Americans. An estimated 17.1 million Americans, 5.5% of the population, experience multiple deprivations while they are not income poor.  The odds of experiencing multiple deprivations are significantly higher for Hispanics, immigrants and persons with disabilities. Conclusions - Income poverty is not a reliable proxy to measure multiple deprivations. Further measurement efforts are needed on overlapping multiple deprivations in the U.S. as such measures can be used in policy evaluation and monitoring.

 Highlights:

  • On the international stage, poverty is increasingly understood broadly as a deprivation of wellbeing across multiple dimensions rather than purely as a lack of income or other financial resources.
  • A measure of multiple overlapping deprivations is developed for the United States.
  • Multiple deprivations are not rare in the United States: they affect 15 percent of Americans.
  • Income poverty cannot be used as a proxy for multiple deprivations.
  • Measures of multiple deprivations can provide new insights for research and policy.

 *Direct all correspondence to Sophie Mitra. Dr. Mitra will share all data and coding for replication purposes.mitra@fordham.edu