Recalibrating the poverty line

by David Safier

John Schwarz, a local who is professor emeritus of government and public policy at the University of Arizona and senior distinguished fellow at Demos, has an enlightening op ed in the LA Times about the poverty line. [Full disclosure: John is a friend.] Our definition of poverty, Schwarz says, was calibrated in the 1960s and it's in need of recalibration. Then, food was a third of an average family's budget, and the poverty threshold was set at 3 times the cost of an adequate food diet. Today, food is one-sixth of an average family's budget, but the poverty line is still set at three times the cost of buying food for a family.

The poverty line is set at $23,500 for a family of four. According to Schwarz, it should be closer to $41,000.

Schwarz has a book which just came out and I haven't had a chance to look at: "Common Credo: The Path Back to American Success."

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