Friday, September 27, 2013

How should we measure poverty?

The Numbers Guy's column this week looked at how we measure poverty (discussed in chapter 8 of The Data Game). Although most economists agree that the current measure is problematic, finding a replacement is politically difficult since any change will lead to 'winners' and 'losers' relative to the current measure. Bialik notes that some states (such as New York) have started coming up with their own measures, which may put some pressure on the feds to establish a better national instrument.

Possible discussion questions:
- What are some of the problems with the existing poverty measure? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Supplemental Poverty Measure?
- Why might it be problematic for each state to develop their own poverty measure? Why do we need a national measure?