Who Were the Officially Poor in 2013?

The Census released the official poverty data on Tuesday. I detailed the effects of transfers on the figures on Wednesday. Here I aim to drill down on who comprised the officially poor in 2013.

My favorite method for doing this is to start with all of the poor people and then remove categories of people one by one. For the following graph I did that, starting with all of the poor and then removing children, the elderly, the disabled, students, working, and the rest in that order. One consequence of doing it this way is that people who fall into two or more of the categories are only counted within the category that they first qualify for. So, for instance, someone who is both elderly and disabled will show up under elderly. Someone who is both disabled and a student will show up under disabled. And so on.

Here is the composition of the officially impoverished using this method:

Children comprise 32.3% of the poor. Elderly people comprise 8.7%. Disabled people make up 9.8%. Students make up 8.2%. Those with earnings make up 19.4% and the rest make up 21.5%.

Thus, the CED block (children, elderly, and disabled) continue to make up a slight majority of the officially impoverished at 50.8%. The CEDS block (CED plus students) makes up 59% of the impoverished. And the CEDSW block (CEDS plus workers) makes up 78.5% of the poor.

Just 21.5% of the poor are able-bodied, non-student, non-working adults. This is equal to 3.1% of the overall population.

It deserves emphasizing here that some of these people are stay-at-home parents with a working spouse, and most will work in the coming years or have worked in the past.

Non-Working Men

Since non-working poor men are a borderline obsession of conservatives, I did a slightly modified version of the calculation above as well. In this version, I start by taking out children, elderly, disabled, and students just as in the first calculation. But, at that point, I take out women as well. This CEDS+women block accounts for 82.5% of impoverished people.

From there, I take out those with earnings as well (i.e. those who worked). The CEDSW+women block accounts for 91.6% of the poor. This means able-bodied, non-student, non-working, adult men only make up 8.4% of the poor, which is equal to 1.2% of the overall population.

For some bonus fun, I also took this able-bodied, non-student, non-working adult men population and broke it down by race. At the final score, white men who qualify as such make up 3.9% of the poor or 0.56% of the overall population. Black men who qualify as such make up 2.1% of the poor or 0.31% of the overall population. Hispanic men who qualify as such make up 1.7% of the poor or 0.25% of the overal population.

This confirms my prior finding that poor, non-working black and Latino men are nearly non-existent, as they made up just 0.56% of the overall 2013 population.

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