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POVERTY
Poverty status

Description

POVERTY treats respondents who live in families collectively. It expresses each family's total income for the previous year as a percentage of the poverty thresholds established by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and subsequently revised in 1980, adjusted for inflation (see the poverty definition page for more information). POVERTY assigns all members of each family - not each household - the same code. POVERTY is also calculated for most adults living as unrelated individuals. For the 1950-2000 censuses, the reference period for income is the previous calendar year; for the ACS and the PRCS, the reference period is the preceding 12 months from the date of interview.

Whether an individual falls below the official "poverty line" depends not only on total family income, but also on the size of the family, the number of people in the family who are children, and the age of the householder (under/over age 65). POVERTY was created using detailed income and family structure information about each individual and calculating the family income as a percentage of the appropriate official poverty threshold. For example, if a person's family income is $20,000 and the poverty threshold for such a person is $13,861, then the value of POVERTY for that individual is $20,000/$13,861 * 100 percent, or 144. Individuals whose family income is more than five times the appropriate poverty threshold receive a POVERTY value of 501. For more detail on the precise poverty thresholds used for the POVERTY variable, see the poverty definition page.

In POVERTY, the IPUMS evaluates poverty status individually for each distinct family unit in the household, as defined in FAMUNIT. For example, all persons related to the household head receive the same poverty value as the head, while an unrelated person and her child would share their own value distinct from that of the primary family. As mentioned in the FAMUNIT variable description, it is possible for individuals identified as being non-relatives of the head (RELATE) to be included in the primary family (FAMUNIT 1), based on family pointer information. However, because the POVERTY values for primary families in the 2000 Decennial and ACS/PRCS samples are published in the PUMS by the Census Bureau (see User Caution below) and the Census Bureau strictly excludes "non-relatives" (RELATED > 1100) from primary families, some individuals identified as FAMUNIT 1 by IPUMS USA will not have the same POVERTY value as the head of household. These individuals will instead have the single-person poverty calculation assigned to them by the Census Bureau.

The original PUMS samples for years prior to 1990 did not include a poverty variable. Original PUMS samples from 1990 onward included poverty values, but IPUMS poverty values differ from the original PUMS values in a key way. The original PUMS samples treated all households members unrelated to the head as one-person families when assigning poverty values, even if such persons were part of a secondary family (i.e., persons living with their own relatives but not related to the household head). Thus, the original PUMS poverty measures do not account for the presence of children (or any other aspect of family size and composition) in secondary families. For example, in the original 1990 PUMS sample, a woman unrelated to the householder who has a child would receive a poverty value appropriate for a single person with a given income, rather than for a two-person family with a child. Consequently, the original PUMS samples from 1990 onwards tend to underestimate poverty. In the IPUMS, by contrast, the POVERTY value would be based on the threshold fitting the secondary family consisting of both the mother and the child. The IPUMS samples also round to the nearest poverty value, while the original census PUMS samples always round up.

User Caution: The incomes of the highest-earning individuals are "top-coded" in the 2000 census data, the ACS and the PRCS samples (see 2000 income Top codes). In the 2000-present period, for individuals in the first family unit of every household (cases where FAMUNIT=1), POVERTY uses the poverty values in the original PUMS samples, which are based on respondents' pre-top-coded income information. The POVERTY value for some of these cases will differ from calculations one could make by hand using the available information in the top-coded income variables. As noted above, the IPUMS calculates POVERTY values for members of secondary families, and these values are based on top-coded income information. (Like the ACS, the IPUMS also uses the income adjustment factor before calculating poverty, although use of this factor is not recommended with IPUMS data. See the ACS income standardization note for more information.) This variable also includes some valid values for group quarters (GQ) residents, even though the stated universe does not include such cases. Users who want to maintain a consistent universe should manually exclude group quarters residents.

Codes

POVERTY is a 3-digit numeric code expressing each family's total income for the previous year as a percentage of the poverty thresholds established by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and subsequently revised in 1980, adjusted for inflation (See Poverty Definition Page). POVERTY specific variable codes for missing, edited, or unidentified observations, observations not applicable (N/A), observations not in universe (NIU), top and bottom value coding, etc. are provided below by Census year (and data sample if specified).

POVERTY Specific Variable Codes
000 = N/A
001 = 1 percent or less of poverty threshold
501 = 501 percent or more of poverty threshold

Comparability

This variable is comparable across years.

Universe

  • 1950: Persons in primary families headed by a sample-line person, and secondary individuals who are sample-line persons; not persons in group quarters or in secondary families.
  • 1960-2000: Not group quarters. Not unrelated children with no sub-family.
  • ACS, PRCS: Not group quarters. Not unrelated children with no sub-family.

Availability

United States
  • 2017: All samples
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: ACS; ACS 3yr; ACS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2004: All samples
  • 2003: All samples
  • 2002: All samples
  • 2001: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1960: All samples
  • 1950: All samples
  • 1940: --
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --
  • 1900: --
  • 1880: --
  • 1870: --
  • 1860: --
  • 1850: --
Puerto Rico
  • 2017: All samples
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: PRCS; PRCS 3yr; PRCS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --

Flags

This variable has no flags.

Editing Procedure

There is no editing procedure available for this variable.