Poverty Trends, 1980-88:

Changes in Family Composition and Income Sources Among the Poor

T-PEMD-92-13: Published: Sep 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1992.

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GAO discussed the results of its work on poverty trends during the 1980s. GAO noted that: (1) poverty rates have been used as indicators of the need for income assistance and the ability of public programs and policies to provide that assistance to the poor; (2) after 1973, the poverty rate for all persons increased until it peaked in 1983, and in 1988 returned to its 1980 level; (3) between 1980 and 1988, the number of U.S. families grew from an estimated 87.8 million to 100.6 million, and the number of poor families grew from 12.6 million to 14.2 million; (4) young single parents have higher poverty rates than young married couples with children; (5) an examination of sources of income showed that increased poverty rates were primarily due to a decrease in real income from public benefits; and (6) the poverty rate for families headed by a person with a disability increased between 1980 and 1988 from 3 to 45 percent.

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