How Poor Are America's Poor?
The average "poor" person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines. The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
1. 43% percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
2. 80% of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36% of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
3. The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the averagecitizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
4. Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31% own two or more cars.
5. 97% of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
6. 78% percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62% have cable or satellite TV reception.
7. 89% own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.
~Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation
HT: Don Boudreaux