Supplemental Poverty Measure: Adjusting Poverty Thresholds for Geographic Variations in Both Food and Housing Prices

Trudi Renwick, U.S. Census Bureau
Alemayehu Bishaw, U.S. Census Bureau

In November 2011, the Census Bureau issued the first Research Supplemental Poverty Measure report with poverty estimates for 2009 and 2010. The estimates in the November 2011 report use American Community Survey (ACS) data to adjust the housing portion of the poverty thresholds for differences in housing costs. One shortcoming of this geographic cost adjustment mechanism is that it does not account for geographic differences in the cost of other elements of the poverty threshold. This paper will use the food index derived from Nielsen Homescan data for Feeding America's “Map the Meal Gap 2011” report to construct a geographic cost of living index based on both food and housing costs. This index will be applied to the 2010 SPM poverty thresholds. Poverty estimates using this alternative index will be compared to poverty estimates using the housing-only index.

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Presented in Poster Session 9