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Income to Poverty Ratios

Most people recognize that our official poverty rate is based on some peculiar assumptions. Those who have looked closely realize that it is nothing more than a statistical measure of how many people fall below certain income levels, but that those income levels bear no particular relationship to any reality.

But the official poverty measure does have a kernel of usefulness, if used judiciously: it does attempt to make some adjustment for family size. The adjustment factors, however, are rather out of step with the realities of 21st century America. (See America's Low-Cost Counties for some discussion of this. See also The Self-Sufficiency Standard Studies, and other Methodologies for Calculating a Bare-Bones Cost of Living.)

Income to Poverty Ratios, 2004 — How many of us live at incomes below various multiples of the Federal Poverty Guideline?

 
Census Data, 2004: Number and Percentage of Each Age Group living in households with incomes below various multiples of the FPG
 
Income Relative to Poverty Line
Percent of Americans
Number of Americans
Percent of Children Under age 5
Percent of Children
5 to 17
Percent of Adults
18-64
Percent of Adults 65+
 
Family of 1
Family of 2
Family of 3
Family of 4
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
 
(7)
(8)
(9)
(10)
below 100%
12.7%
36,997,000
20.5%
16.8%
11.3%
9.8%
 
$9,800
$13,200
$16,600
$20,000
below 125%
17.1%
49,666,000
25.9%
21.8%
14.9%
16.5%
 
12,250
16,500
20,750
$25,000
below 150%
21.6%
62,849,000
31.7%
26.9%
18.5%
23.9%
 
14,700
19,800
24,900
$30,000
below 175%
26.6%
77,359,000
37.4%
32.3%
22.9%
31.3%
 
17,150
23,100
29,050
$35,000
below 185%
28.5%
82,849,000
39.6%
34.6%
24.4%
34.3%
 
18,130
24,420
30,710
$37,000
below 200%
31.2%
90,813,000
42.7%
37.9%
26.8%
37.9%
 
19,600
26,400
33,200
$40,000
below 250%
40.1%
116,512,000
51.8%
47.3%
34.8%
49.7%
 
24,500
33,000
41,500
$50,000
below 300%
48.5%
140,885,000
60.5%
56.1%
42.8%
59.3%
 
29,400
39,600
49,800
$60,000

source: Columns 1 through 5: tables linked from http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032005/pov/new01_000.htm

 

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