January 7, 2014
Why You Should Forget About the Poverty Rate

If you want to appreciate just how much progress America has made fighting poverty since Lyndon Johnson declared his war on it 50 years ago this week, here’s a tip: Forget the official poverty rate. 
Well, don’t forget it entirely. But do understand its limits. In 1964, the rate was 19 percent. Today, it’s 15 percent, which, as my colleague Derek Thompson wrote yesterday, suggests we’ve barely made a dent in economic deprivation. But for such an influential and obsessed-over number, there’s widespread agreement that the government’s standard poverty measure is deeply flawed, and it almost certainly understates how much the social safety net has improved U.S. living standards over time.
In other words, there are lies, damn lies, and in this case, outdated economic statistics. 
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why You Should Forget About the Poverty Rate

If you want to appreciate just how much progress America has made fighting poverty since Lyndon Johnson declared his war on it 50 years ago this week, here’s a tip: Forget the official poverty rate. 

Well, don’t forget it entirely. But do understand its limits. In 1964, the rate was 19 percent. Today, it’s 15 percent, which, as my colleague Derek Thompson wrote yesterday, suggests we’ve barely made a dent in economic deprivation. But for such an influential and obsessed-over number, there’s widespread agreement that the government’s standard poverty measure is deeply flawed, and it almost certainly understates how much the social safety net has improved U.S. living standards over time.

In other words, there are lies, damn lies, and in this case, outdated economic statistics.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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  13. mdouble said: poverty is in part state of mind, not a specific figure. For example, a monk may own nothing and so with no tangible assets is by definition below the official poverty line. But the monk may also be blissfully happy having disassociated themselves from the dictates of…
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  19. verycuriousnocure reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    IMO, even though Lyndon Johnson had the best of intentions back in 1964, his goals are far from being achieved.....