Monday, February 11, 2008

How close to 36% of American families are below a realistic poverty line?


How close to 36% of American families are below a realistic poverty line?

The 50 percentile American family income in 2005 was $61,032. (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/families/ Table F-3, Mean Family Income, All Races)

The "minimum needs" table (3-2) on p.44 of the 2001 book Raise the Floor maps out a minimum needs line for a family of three at $45,476 in 2012 dollars -- including $8,786 cost of medical insurance. * The Raise minimum needs line is computed by totaling up a comprehensive list of needs -- not the half-century old federal formula that multiplies three times the cost of an emergency food budget (dried beans only please; no expensive canned!).

(Raise provides extensive explanations for its minimum needs parameters in Appendix B -- its tables cite Solutions for Progress. Average family size is 3.13 persons.)

The difference between second and third quintile average family incomes ($37,556 and $61,032) runs approximately $1,200/percentile. So, adding about $6,000 to $37,556 (the 30 percentile mark -- the second quintle mean) gets us to Raise's minimum needs line -- demarking 36% of American families below minimum needs if they have to buy their own health insurance and 29% if they do -- and excluding government helps like food stamps.

[* "Raise's" tables allot $3,000 to yearly medical expenses for a family of three even if insured.]

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