Appendix D: Poverty


Many programs under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Ways and Means featured in the Green Book provide benefits and services to individuals and families living near or below the poverty line, an income threshold calculated by the Census Bureau based on household size. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation each year using Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). This new appendix includes Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and data that provide a statistical picture of poverty in the United States.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The House Ways and Means Committee is making available selected reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for inclusion in its 2016 Green Book website. CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to Committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

R44644: Poverty in the United States in 2015: In Brief

R44698: Demographic and Social Characteristics of Persons in Poverty, 2015

CRS-Computed Poverty Rates

At the request of the House Committee on Ways and Means, CRS computed pre-transfer, pre-welfare, and total money income poverty rates. Also at the request of the Committee, CRS computed poverty rates based on alternative inflation adjustments to the poverty thresholds, using the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used for the official poverty rates. The poverty rates based on the PCE price index were computed by adjusting the poverty thresholds on the CPS microdata files by the ratio of the PCE to the CPI price index, with both price indices rebased to either 1968 or 2015. CRS did not evaluate the pros and cons of using the PCE price index versus the CPI.

The tabulations are included in a workbook available here:

CRS Poverty Rate Special Calculations

Tabulations included in this workbook are based on the available Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) public use data files. The available public use data files for the years covering 1987 to 2015 annual income are from a CRS collection obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau annually. The public use data files for 1968 to 1986 are those available from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), except the 1969 data are from a file obtained from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research maintained at the University of Michigan.

The Census Bureau sometimes makes revisions to its poverty data, which are not always reflected on the available public use data files. Therefore, for some years, the poverty rates reported in this workbook might differ from those posted on the Census Bureau website.

This page was prepared October 2016 for the 2016 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.