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SPM unit's poverty status

Codes and Frequencies

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SPMPOV indicates whether a family is classified as poor according to the Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Researchers should use the weight developed for the SPM when using SPMPOV. This weight is available in SPMWT.

The SPM is calculated by the Census Bureau as an alternative indicator of poverty status. It incorporates the value of tax and transfer benefits not included in the official poverty measure. In addition, the SPM thresholds are calculated based on consumer expenditure data and take into account geographic differences in the cost of living. Finally, the SPM is calculated using a different definition of family membership than the official poverty measure. Differences include treating cohabiting couples as members of the same family, including foster children in the family of the head of household, and placing no age or marital status restrictions on identifiable family relationships among adults who are unrelated to the householder.

For more information on the calculation of the SPM, see the Census Bureau's "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure" report. Note that the SPM data files were made confidential by the Census Bureau before public release. Consequently, poverty estimates produced using the public use files may differ slightly from those reported in Census Bureau studies.

A family is classified as poor by this measure if their total economic resources fall below the poverty threshold. SPM family units are identified in SPMFAMUNIT.

In 2014, the Census Bureau updated the SPM public use research files to reflect three changes. First, the 2010 and 2011 files include updated tax estimates. Second, all files use a revised estimate for WIC (see SPMWIC for more information). Third, the updated files use Census 2010-based population controls as opposed to Census 2000-based population controls, as it was originally released (see WTSUPP for more information). These changes are documented on the Census Bureau site (Supplemental Poverty Measure Public Use Files).


SPMPOV is comparable across years.


  • All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2010 – 2019 - - X - - - - - - - - -


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