In 1990, Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty wrote the following:
* 38 percent of the persons whom the Census Bureau identifies as “poor” own their own homes with a median value of $39,200.
* 62 percent of “poor” households own a car; 14 percent own two or more cars.
* Nearly half of all “poor” households have air-conditioning; 31 percent have microwave ovens.
* Nationwide, some 22,000 “poor” households have heated swimming pools or Jacuzzis.
It’s now 30 years later. Has anything changed? Once again, Robert Rector:
The Census Bureau recently announced it wants advice on ways to develop more accurate measurements of poverty—a welcome and much-needed change.
Year after year, the Census Bureau reports that more than 30 million Americans live in poverty. Yet it is widely acknowledged that the way government measures poverty is deeply flawed.
The first question is: What does it mean to be poor in the U.S.?