How Differences in the Cost of Living Affect Low-Income Families
In this policy analysis from NCPA, the authors note that in the United States, eligibility for government social benefits is based mainly on an absolute measure of poverty – the federal poverty level – which is an income threshold that varies by family size. The level is supposed to be the minimum income required for a household to buy such things as food, clothing and shelter. Because the cost of living varies widely across the United States, the federal poverty threshold is not a meaningful definition of minimum living standards. How much a family can buy with those benefits depends on where they live.