America's Children in Poverty: A New Look at Who's Poor Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure. Introduction


This research brief examines child poverty in 2010 using both the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) that the Census Bureau has been using since the 1960s, and the more recent Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).The goal of the brief is to demonstrate how each measure differentiates the poor from the non-poor, how the SPM adds to our understanding of child poverty, and how the two measures taken together may provide important delineations of which children are poor when measured using the OPM and the SPM. In particular, the brief looks at three groups of children (see Figure 1): the “core” group of children who are poor regardless of which poverty measure is used (11.2 million children); those who are poor only under the official measure and are “lifted out” of poverty when employing the SPM (5.6 million children); and those children who are not poor under the official measure but who are “thrown in” to poverty under the new SPM measure (2.4 million children). In so doing, the brief seeks to identify the core characteristics of each group in order to shed light on what each poverty measure means for our understanding of child poverty in America. It also demonstrates what each measure independently contributes to our understanding of child poverty and offers some insights based on a comparative analysis of these three groups of children.

Figure 1: Children in Poverty by Poverty Measure, 2010

Children in Poverty by Poverty Measure, 2010 (Millions)

Children in Poverty by Poverty Measure, 2010 (Millions)

Lifted OutThrown InCore Poor
OPM Poor Children5.611.2
SPM Poor Children2.411.2

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