Understanding Variation in Poverty Rates Using the California Poverty Measure

Christopher T. Wimer, Columbia University
Sarah Bohn, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Caroline Danielson, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Matt Levin, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Marybeth J. Mattingly, University of New Hampshire

The California Poverty Measure (CPM) measures economic disadvantage across and within California. It follows in the spirit of the research Supplemental Poverty Measure now released each year by the U.S. Census Bureau. In this paper, we assess poverty for California’s large immigrant population – and in particular, the undocumented population. We ask whether the picture of poverty changes under the CPM when we account for the presence of unauthorized immigrants? Given the difficulty in identifying unauthorized immigrants in large-scale surveys, we examine a number of alternative methodologies and assumptions, and assess the sensitivity of poverty outcomes. Further, we address the impact of safety net program eligibility and participation on poverty rates among immigrants and immigrant subgroups. Creating a methodology to rigorously measure poverty among undocumented immigrants in California is critical to understanding poverty in the state, given the large share of the population that is foreign born.

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Presented in Session 197: Poverty, Instability, and Mobility