Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Update on New Poverty Standards; Poverty Has Gone Up Compared to Old Measure

Expectations Were Wrong, New Measurement Shows Higher Poverty Among Elderly

Earlier The Dismal Political Economist, quoted a story that expected the new measure of poverty to show less people in poverty.  The results of the study of poverty using government assistance in the measurement has now been released.  It finds this

The report found that 49.1 million Americans — 16 percent of the population — lived in poverty in 2010, which is higher than the 46.2 million Americans found to live in poverty by the official measure released in September.

The reason for the unexpected findings was that the Census Bureau included out of pocket medical cost, which resulted in a large increase in poverty among the elderly.

The increased level of poverty revealed by the supplemental measure is at odds with what some poverty experts expected. The increased level of poverty was fueled by the sharply higher levels of poverty among senior citizens found by the alternative measure.

But after trying to improve the poverty measure by including government support some will say the Census Bureau still seems to have fumbled the ball

The biggest factor increasing the poverty rate for seniors under the alternative measure was out-of-pocket medical expenses, which are not captured by the official poverty rate but are by the alternative measure. At the same time, neither the accumulated wealth of senior citizens nor their Medicare benefits are included in the official or supplemental measure, which some experts said skews the number of elderly who are counted as impoverished.

But Medicare benefits are offset by medical costs, so they do not help people out of poverty, they just keep sosme recipients from falling even further into the abyss. 

So expect Conservatives to denounce the new findings and claim that poverty is not a problem and is not prevalent in the U. S.  Of course, where most Conservatives live it is not a problem.

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