Skip to main content
×
Home

Are We Providing Enough to Those Who Have Too Little? Measuring Poverty Relief*

Abstract

This manuscript presents a new measure of safety net program effectiveness—a “poverty relief ratio”—that is based on the estimated relationship between market income and social transfers, and reports the amount of income support provided, relative to the amount required to provide for all low-income households’ basic needs. In an important advance over the standard poverty reduction rate measures, the poverty relief ratio preserves the rank order of observations across varying poverty thresholds. In this paper, we introduce this measure and demonstrate its validity by tracking major changes in federal policy and cross-state variation in safety net programs.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Karen L. Jusko, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 (kljusko@stanford.edu). Katherine Weisshaar, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (weisshaar@unc.edu). The measurement strategy presented in this paper was developed in the context of Jusko’s dissertation research on the politics of social policy and benefitted from early comments offered by Christopher Achen, John Jackson, Robert Franzese, and Ken Kollman. The authors are grateful to David Grusky, who suggested that the analysis could be usefully applied to social policy in the American states. Grusky also provided helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and, through the Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality, funding support for Weisshaar’s work on this project. Diana Dakhlallah provided excellent research assistance. Finally, the authors appreciate the detailed comments and suggestions offered by Jens Hainmueller, Robert Moffitt, Clayton Nall, Charles Varner, Kim Weeden, James Ziliak, and the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit https://doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2017.27

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Bavier Richard. 2001. ‘Welfare Reform Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation’. Monthly Labor Review 124:1324.
Ben-Shalom Yonatan, Moffitt Robert A., and Scholz John Karl. 2012. ‘An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States’. In Jefferson, Philip, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty. Oxford UP.
Blank Rebecca M. 2002. ‘Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States’. Journal of Economic Literature 40(4):11051166.
Boadway Robin, and Keen Michael. 2000. ‘Redistribution’. In Atkinson, Anthony B., and François Bourguignon, eds., Handbook of Income Distribution, vol. 1, chapter 12, 677–789. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
Brady David. 2005. ‘The Welfare State and Relative Poverty in Rich Western Democracies, 1967-1997’. Social Forces 83(4):13291364.
Citro Constance, and Michael Robert (eds). 1995. Measuring Poverty: A New Approach. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Danziger Sheldon, Heflin Colleen M., Corcoran Mary E., Oltmans Elizabeth, and Wang Hui-Chen. 2002. ‘Does It Pay to Move from Welfare to Work?Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 21(4):671692.
Foster James, Greer Joel, and Thorbecke Erik. 1984. ‘A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures’. Econometrica 52(3):761766.
Foster James, Greer Joel, and Thorbecke Erik. 2010. ‘The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) Poverty Measures: Twenty-Five Years Later’. The Journal of Economic Inequality 8(4):491524.
Gundersen Craig, Kreider Brent, and Pepper John. 2011. ‘The Economics of Food Insecurity in the United States’. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 33(3):281303.
Hero Rodney, and Preuhs Robert. 2007. ‘Immigration and the Evolving American Welfare State: Examining Policies in the U.S. States’. American Journal of Political Science 51(3):498517.
Jenkins Stephen P., and Lambert Peter J.. 1997. ‘Three “I”s of Poverty Curves, with an Analysis of UK Poverty Trends’. Oxford Economic Papers 49:317327.
Jusko Karen Long. 2008. ‘The Political Representation of the Poor’. Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) Dissertation, The University of Michigan.
Lichter Daniel T., and Jayakody Rukamalie. 2002. ‘Welfare Reform: How Do We Measure Success?Annual Review of Sociology 28(1):117141.
Meyer Bruce D., and Sullivan James X.. 2003. ‘Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption’. The Journal of Human Resources 38:11801220.
Meyer Bruce D., and Sullivan James X.. 2012. ‘Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure’. Journal of Economic Perspectives 26(3):111135.
Milanovic Branko. 2000. ‘The Median-Voter Hypothesis, Income Inequality, and Income Redistribution: An Empirical Test with the Required Data’. European Journal of Political Economy 16:367410.
Moffitt Robert, and Sholz John Karl. 2009. ‘Trends in the Level and Distribution of Income Support’. NBER Working Paper No. 15488.
Moffitt Robert, and Scholz John Karl. 2010. ‘Trends in the Level and Distribution of Income Support’. Tax Policy and the Economy 24(1):111152.
Morduch Jonathan. 1999. ‘The Microfinance Promise’. Journal of Economic Literature 37(4):15691614.
Okun Arthur M. 1975. Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Ray Achintya. 2006. ‘A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures With Public Transfers’. Economics Bulletin 9(3):18.
Reingold Beth, and Smith Adrienne. 2012. ‘Welfare Policymaking and Intersections of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in U.S. State Legislatures’. American Journal of Political Science 56(1):131147.
Schoeni Robert F., and Blank Rebecca M.. 2000. ‘What has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure’. Working Paper No. 7627, Nation Bureau of Economic Research.
Shaefer H. Luke, and Edin Kathryn. 2015. $2 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Tach Laura, and Edin Kathryn. 2017. ‘The Social Safety Net After Welfare Reform: Recent Developments and Consequences for Household Dynamics’. Annual Review of Sociology 43:541561.
Tiehen Laura, Smeeding Timothy, and Jolliffe Dean. 2013. ‘The Effect of SNAP on Poverty’. University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research Discussion Paper Series No. DP2013-06. Available at http://www.ukcpr.org/Publications/DP2013-06.pdf, accessed 3 January 2014.
Thompson Jeffrey, and Smeeding Timothy. 2013. ‘Country Case Study – USA’. In Stephen P. Jenkins, Andrea Brandolini, John Micklewright and Brian Nolan (eds), The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income, 202233. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
United States Department of Labor (2015). ‘Monthly Program and Financial Data: Summary Data for State Programs, by State’. 2010–2014. Available at http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/.
‘Welfare Rules Database’. 2010–2014. Available at http://anfdata.urban.org/wrd/Query/query.cfm.
Wheaton Laura. 2007. ‘Underreporting of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the CPS and SIPP’. Mimeo, Urban Institute.
Zheng Buhong. 2000. ‘Poverty Orderings’. Journal of Economic Surveys 14(4):427466.
Ziliak James P. 2006. Understanding Poverty Rates and Gaps: Concepts, Trends, and Challenges. Boston, MA: Now.
Ziliak James P. 2008. ‘Filling the Poverty Gap: Then and Now’. Frontiers in Family Economics 1:39114.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Jusko and Weisshaar supplementary material
Jusko and Weisshaar supplementary material 1

 Unknown (11 KB)
11 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Jusko and Weisshaar Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Jusko and Weisshaar supplementary material
Jusko and Weisshaar supplementary material 2

 PDF (877 KB)
877 KB

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 17 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 102 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th September 2017 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.