Poverty and Inequality Research Group
Understanding how much poverty exists is the first step to reducing it. Projects in this area contribute to active debates about how best to measure poverty.
This project is developing an improved measure of Oregon’s poor, including who they are, where they live, and what policies and programs are doing the most (and least) to lift them out of poverty. The current source of most poverty data, the Official Poverty Measure (OPM), does not capture the influence of social policies and net taxes, therefore does not accurately represent the state of poverty in Oregon. Modeled after the SPM, and using a combination of survey data (American Community Survey), state administrative data from Human Services and Employment, and data imputation, the new measure will establish a more valid measure of poverty in the state.
We expect that the new Oregon Poverty Measure will help policymakers understand the extent of poverty. Measuring the influence of state policies on the poverty rate will help policymakers and others to evaluate their effectiveness. The OrPM will likely shed new light on the demographics, geographic distribution, and living situations of the poor and reveal new inequalities and opportunities to reduce poverty in Oregon. The project is funded by the Ford Family Foundation and the Providence Foundation.
Canada, the United States and other OECD countries are experiencing rising economic inequality. Recent insights have shown that the rise in incomes and wealth are drivers of inequality (Fortin, Green, Lemieux, Milligan, & Riddell, 2012; Piketty & Saez, 2014). Yet to date, very little empirical research on inequality has focused on the well-being of those located in the lower ends of asset and wealth distributions. Furthermore, the vast majority of poverty research is conducted from an income-oriented perspective. In contrast, the concept of asset poverty offers a qualitatively and quantitatively different understanding of poverty (as compared to income poverty). Asset poverty is defined as having insufficient assets to maintain a certain standard of living for a predefined amount of time. This project includes several studies of asset poverty in the context of Canada and the United States.
The project is expected to yield findings of great interest to policymakers, advocates, think-tanks and community practitioners concerned with addressing issues related to poverty and social exclusion, as well as enrich public discourse on economic inequality more broadly. The project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.