January 07, 2014
January 07, 2014
“On the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, we can be thankful for important progress we’ve made in reducing poverty in America and Ohio,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio. “Today, the safety net cuts poverty nearly in half and provides relief to many poor and near-poor people and families.”
When measured using a comprehensive poverty measure, poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century. Since the mid-1960s, average incomes of the poorest fifth of Americans have risen significantly, infant mortality has dropped sharply, and severe child malnutrition has largely disappeared.
Nevertheless, poverty and hardship remain high, with millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table or a roof over their heads. More should be done to strengthen efforts to reduce poverty and hardship and promote economic opportunity.
Under a version of the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that uses today’s poverty standards (starting with the SPM poverty line for 2012 and adjusting for inflation back to 1967), the overall poverty rate has declined substantially — from 26 percent to 16 percent between 1967 and 2012. 
This Chart Book by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides more data, and Amy Hanauer is available to discuss the anniversary of the war on poverty.
 The researchers also measured poverty using a different poverty line that’s based on what people spent for basic necessities such as food and shelter in different years, rather than based on what people spend today and adjusted back for inflation. This method results in a lower poverty line in 1964, reflecting the lower living standards at that time. As a result, under this measure, poverty still has fallen since 1967, but the decline is more modest because the starting point is lower.
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