The new supplemental figures will show poverty to be higher than previously known for several groups, although they may not fully reflect longer-term changes. For instance, a recent working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that U.S. spending on the safety net from 1984 to 2004 shifted notably toward programs benefiting the near-poor rather than the extreme poor and to the elderly rather than younger adults. That trend, which has continued since 2004, has led to faster increases in poverty over time for some of the underserved groups.
Robert Moffitt, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University and co-author the paper, cited a series of cuts in government programs since 1984 for the neediest, including welfare payments to single parents and the unemployed under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, while Social Security and Medicare have either been expanded or remained constant.
"Over time, even under a revised poverty measure, the elderly have done better," he said.
___Online: Census Bureau: www.census.gov Pew: http://pewsocialtrends.org