Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not all poverty is the created equal

The Census folks came out with a technical report of note for Pittsburgh: Examining the Effect of Off-Campus College Students on Poverty Rates

The title is mostly self explanatory.. well, sort of.  Many do not realize that college students are often treated as everyone else when it comes to measuring poverty.  So a college student living off campus with nominal income like most students will often be recorded as living in poverty if their income is below the poverty threshold.  Yes, it seems like a very different economic status than those living in long term poverty, but the poverty threshold is a simplistic metric. 

So this paper goes in and estimates how big a difference college students have on poverty rates. It also does specific calculations for larger municipalities and places across the nation.  What I am surprised nobody picked up on was the result for the city of Pittsburgh which has one of the bigger 'adjustments' in Pennsylvania. Using data from 2009-2011, the poverty rate for the city is calculated to be 23.1%.  With the exclusion of college students living off campus the city's poverty rate drops to 19.7%. The report does not look at smaller geographies, but the impact on certain neighborhoods must be significantly larger. Beyond poverty in itself, if you take out students from Shadyside the aggregate income metrics for the neighborhood.

These adjustments are notional and exist nowhere outside of this paper for the most part.  So any statistics you see on poverty remain as they have been calculated in the past.Just worth keeping in mind as you interpret local economic stats.

3 Comments:

Anonymous The Wiz said...

There is a big reason that there is so little written on this issue....huge amounts of money from state and federal sources are based on the poverty rate. If the poverty rate were adjusted down to the more accurate level, the city, county, and many related NGOs would loose a lot of mullah.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Huh? An ennormous literature has been written on the deficiencies of poverty measurement in the United States? Tomes and tomes of journal articles on topic. Whole careers even have been devoted to it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Then what does this mean?

These adjustments are notional and exist nowhere outside of this paper for the most part. So any statistics you see on poverty remain as they have been calculated in the past

Thursday, August 22, 2013 9:55:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home