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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Opinions: Poverty Measurement

  • Poverty and recovery, Editorial, January 19, 2011, New York Times: “In 2008, the first year of the Great Recession, the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 1.7 million to nearly 47.5 million. While hugely painful, that rise wasn’t surprising given the unraveling economy. What is surprising is that recent census data show that those poverty numbers held steady in 2009, even though job loss worsened significantly that year. Clearly, the sheer scale of poverty – 15.7 percent of the country’s population – is unacceptable. But to keep millions more Americans from falling into poverty during a deep recession is a genuine accomplishment that holds a vital lesson: the safety net, fortified by stimulus, staved off an even more damaging crisis…”
  • Where does the poverty line truly lie?, By Andrew Chambers, January 19, 2011, The Guardian: “Thailand is a development success story. The country is on target to meet or exceed all its millennium development goals (MDGs), and absolute poverty ($1 a day) is now less than 2%. However, do these statistics accurately measure what poverty is, and what is the next step in poverty reduction for middle-income countries like Thailand? How to define and measure poverty, therefore, is not just a dry academic debate, as these decisions greatly affect what policies are pursued…”