In the early 1960s, the Johnson administration created the poverty measure as part of its War on Poverty. More than four decades later, we continue to use essentially the same measure to define poverty despite significant changes in the economy and in household budgets. The result is a measure that does not accurately reflect the level of economic need among American households. And, the measure fails to reflect the effects of many of the nation’s strongest anti-poverty programs.
In a new Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, Rebecca M. Blank of the Brookings Institution and Mark H. Greenberg of Georgetown University propose a new poverty measure that better reflects the actual economic conditions of low-income Americans, based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences.
On December 9, The Hamilton Project released the discussion paper and held a policy forum on the need for a new national poverty measure. Hamilton Project Advisory Council member Roger C. Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners gave welcoming remarks and lead the discussion.
Following a brief presentation of the new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Mr. Altman moderated a roundtable discussion among a panel of experts including: Douglas J. Besharov, Jacobs Scholar in Social Welfare Studies with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI); Linda I. Gibbs, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services in New York City; Nicholas Gwyn, staff director for the Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee; and Sharon Parrott, director of the Welfare Reform and Income Support Division for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Improving the Measurement of Poverty
by Rebecca M. Blank and Mark H. Greenberg
Fighting Poverty in the Land of Opportunity
by Rebecca M. Blank
Former Brookings Expert
Professor and Director, Welfare Reform Academy, University of Maryland
Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services - City of New York
House Ways & Means Committee, US Congress
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
In their recent book, “The New Localism,” Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak argue that cities and counties will be tested as never before in the coming years. They will need to innovate and reform—to pursue new strategies for growth and finance—in a fiscal environment dominated by rising health-care and pension costs. In these circumstances, the quality of metropolitan governance will matter more than ever.