How Poverty is Measured in the United States

AmeriCorps VISTA
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For over 50 years, VISTA has built capacity in nonprofit organizations to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty. You are one of nearly 7,000 VISTA members nationwide working to support this mission. Poverty is a large and complex problem and many have sought ways to define and measure it. As a VISTA, it’s important to understand and reflect on those definitions and measures, as well as your own assumptions about poverty and its causes.

To spur your thinking on this complex issue, please view the video below. 

After viewing the video, reflect on the following questions. You may want to keep a journal of your thoughts.

  • What struck you about this video?
  • What impact might an inaccurate measure of poverty have on policies, programs and people?
  • Can you think of a more effective way to measure poverty?