The census bureau uses two basic criteria to determine if an individual or a family can be considered
in poverty. The first step is to assess the income. There can be different forms of income in addition to that which one would earn from a normal job. There are, for instance, social security, supplemental security income, public assistance ,veterans payments, pension, retirement income, interest dividends, royalties ,alimony, and child support. These are all considered money income. The second step is to calculate the individual's/family's needs (the amount of money required to survive). This is called a poverty threshold.
The poverty threshold varies according to the size of the family and the age of the members. It's important to take into consideration that poverty thresholds are not always accurate. They are used as "statistical yardsticks" to try and determine the cost of living. After income and poverty threashold are determined, the income is divided by the threshold. This is called the ratio of income to poverty. If your income is less than your threshold you are considered to be in poverty.
Overall, I think that this process is an effective way of determining poverty for the majority of Americans. I do think, though, that there are some holes in this system. For example, poverty thresholds are a set amount, no matter where you live in America. The cost of living, however, is much more expensive in L.A. than it is in Escanaba. As a result of this there are people who could be starving but at the same time earning an income surplus according to their poverty threshold statistic. I think this could be fixed by making poverty thresholds correlate with the cost of living in different regions. Another problem that I noticed was that people living without conventional housing were not included in the census. I don't know how this can be solved, but if the census dosn't include the homeless then the... [continues]
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