Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Measuring Multidimensional Poverty in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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(WITHDRAWN) Measuring Multidimensional Poverty in the United States

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Shatakshee Dhongde, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Background: The purpose of this study is to measure the levels and trends of multidimensional deprivation during 2008-2017 in the United States. Recent research on poverty measure claims that a multidimensional approach to poverty is crucial to identify and assess the quality of life and changes in it experienced by citizenry in a nation. Despite the conceptual importance of multidimensional poverty/deprivation and its growing application to many developing and developed countries, little has been known about the complex and dynamic nature of multidimensional deprivation and its current condition in the U.S. Thus, this study seeks to provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of multidimensional deprivation through a systematic analysis in the U.S.

Methods: Data derived from the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS), which are nationally representative and annually conducted by the U.S Census Bureau from 2008 to 2017. The analytic sample was restricted to people aged 18-64. Six key indicators were included: 1) lack of health insurance, 2) housing costs, 3) incompletion of high school education, 4) number of disabilities experienced, 5) overcrowding, and 6) English fluency. A person was determined as multiply deprived if he or she experienced at least two dimensions. Deprivation Indices used were three: 1) Multidimensional Deprivation Indices (MDI) as a proportion, 2) Average intensity index (A) as an intensity, and 3) Deprivation indices (D) made by a product of MDI and A. To estimate the trends, the 2008-2017 period was divided into three: 1) the recession (2008-2010), 2) the short-term recovery (2010-2014), and 3) the long-term recovery (2014-2017). The estimated trends were examined by demographic groups and regions, which were compared with income poverty rates measured by Official Poverty Measure (OPM) and Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).

Results: Findings are presented in three areas. First, we found about 13.5% of the working adult population were multidimensionally deprived on average during 2008-2017. Second, a proportion of overlap between MDI and OPM was 5.6%, indicating that 7.9% of the non-income-poor adult working population experienced multidimensional deprivation in reality. Third, deprivation was high among the near-poor (defined as between 100-199% of the federal poverty line; 27%), young adults aged 18-24 (16%), Hispanics (36%), foreign-born individuals (36%), and single-parent households (25%) on average. Results were robust through a series of sensitivity analysis by changing the number of indicators as a cut-off, excluding each of three indicators (health, housing, and education), and adjusting a threshold for housing burden.

Implications: This study is the first to attempt to systematically examine multidimensional deprivation over the last decade (2008-2017), covering economic recession and recovery period in the U.S. Findings suggest that using income poverty is insufficient to capture deprivation in many dimensions affecting the quality of life. This study implies that monitoring multidimensional deprivation as well as income poverty measures is crucial to improve our understanding of the quality of life in the U.S.