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Power and the People The U.S. Census and Who Counts

Poverty: Molly Orshansky

In 1964, Mollie Orshansky developed the poverty thresholds that are still the basis of the official measure of poverty. At that time, families spent ⅓ of their income on food. Her food basket estimated the lowest cost to provide nutrition for families of different sizes and composition. Multiplying that cost by 3 yielded the poverty level, which has since been adjusted only for inflation, not expenses such as child care and increased housing costs.