chapter  2
How Many Americans Are Poor?
Pages 15

How do we know when someone is poor or what percentage of a nation’s population lives in poverty? Is poverty simply an economic issue? Is someone poor only when he or she is unable to afford an adequate diet, reasonable shelter, and other basic needs? Or more drastically, is someone poor only when he or she is so destitute as to be in danger of acute malnutrition or even starvation? A poor nation might have little choice about how poverty is defined. Identifying only those citizens in danger of starvation so that they can be assisted might be the only realistic goal. When poverty is defined only by basic or bare economic resources, the measure is called absolute. An absolute measure is a fixed dollar amount that a person or family requires for some level of basic survival.