Developing New Poverty Measures

Monday April 26, 2021 at 4PM CDT

Bruce Meyer is a Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, studies poverty and inequality, tax policy, government safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, food stamps, and Medicaid, and the accuracy of household surveys. His most recent work includes research on trends in poverty and inequality, the consequences of disability, the effects of Medicaid, and the accuracy of household surveys. To view Meyer’s research please see his personal page here.

Recent research has shown that 1) income is greatly underreported in household surveys, 2) administrative data can be linked to surveys to at least partly solve income underreporting, and 3) expenditure data can be used to successfully construct consumption poverty measures.  Recognizing these findings, a government working group to reexamine poverty measures was established by the Office of the Chief Statistician of the U.S.  After more than 46 meetings by representatives from 11 government agencies over two years, a consensus report was agreed upon that recommends that two types of new poverty measures be produced by the federal government.  One would combine administrative tax and program data with survey data to better measure income.  A second would use expenditure data to produce a consumption poverty measure.  The talk lays out the need for new poverty measures and discusses the recommendations of this working group that were released earlier this year.