Creating a New Measure of Poverty for States: The Wisconsin Experience

Joanna Marks, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Julia Isaacs, Brookings Institution and University of Wisconsin at Madison
Katherine Thornton, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This paper describes efforts to develop a more accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date measure of poverty in Wisconsin as a model for other states to follow The new measure targets areas of greatest need and reflects the effects of anti-poverty policies and programs within Wisconsin by encompassing state-specific taxes and transfers as well as federal programs . Based on input from state and national experts, the Wisconsin model uses American Community Survey data to measure the level, depth, and trends in poverty and the effects of such programs as SNAP (food stamps), refundable tax credits, as well as out of pocket health care costs and work related expenses including child care. This paper will also assess the ways in which the Wisconsin measure affects the demographic composition of those living in poverty and how this model compares to efforts in other parts of the country,

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Presented in Session 1: The New Demography of Poverty: Federal, Regional, State, and Local Differences