Government

Episode 487: The Trouble With The Poverty Line

Marion Matthew supports herself and her son in New York City on $23,000 a year. According to the government, she does not live in poverty. i i

hide captionMarion Matthew supports herself and her son in New York City on $23,000 a year. According to the government, she does not live in poverty.

Pam Fessler/NPR
Marion Matthew supports herself and her son in New York City on $23,000 a year. According to the government, she does not live in poverty.

Marion Matthew supports herself and her son in New York City on $23,000 a year. According to the government, she does not live in poverty.

Pam Fessler/NPR

According to the government, there are 46.5 million Americans who live below the poverty line. In other words, that's how many people are officially poor. But pretty much everyone who studies poverty agrees: The way we arrive at this figure is completely wrong.

On today's show, we figure out how we got here, why still measure poverty in a way that so many people agree is wrong, and how could we do it better.

For more, see our stories:

* A College Kid, A Single Mom, And The Trouble With The Poverty Line

* The Poverty Rate Ignores Programs That Fight Poverty

Music: Local Natives' "Wide Eyes." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/Spotify/ Tumblr. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.

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