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Self Sufficiency Standard

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Because the Self-Sufficiency Standard provides an accurate and specific measure of income adequacy, it is frequently used in poverty and inequality research. The Standard provides a means of estimating how poverty differs from place to place and among different family types. The Standard also provides a means to measure the adequacy of various work supports, such as child support or child care assistance, given a family’s income, place of residence, and composition.

  • The Self-Sufficiency Standard provides an alternative tool to understanding housing cost burden. A recent report, Shelter Poverty in Ohio: An Alternative Analysis of Rental Housing Affordability, used the Self-Sufficiency Standard to operationalize the idea of shelter poverty by evaluating housing affordability after accounting for the minimum costs for other essentials, instead of relying solely on the widely accepted measurement for housing burden– renters paying above 30% of total income– which does not provide the full picture of housing affordability. 
  • In several states, the Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used along with data from the U.S. Census Bureau to measure the number of families above and below the Self-Sufficiency Standard, as well as the characteristics of those above and below the Standard, such as race, ethnicity, family type, education, and employment. These demographic reports have been published by the Center for Women’s Welfare for seven states, such as the report Overlooked and Undercounted 2009: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in California. The most recent of these reports demonstrates the impact of the Great Recession as measured by the Standard on Pennsylvania.
  • A 2002 report, Income Adequacy and the Affordability of Health Insurance in Washington State, used the Self-Sufficiency Standard as a basis for assessing the affordability of public and private health insurance coverage programs. The study found that "eligibility criteria for public programs targeting low income families should reflect the significant variation in living expenses across geographic regions and family types....Using geographically and demographically static measures like FPL, 50% of median income or minimum wage in eligibility standards will result in policies that are not always focused on those in greatest need of public support."
  • The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released a brief, "Older Adults Challenged Financially When Adult Children Move Home," that utilized data from the Standard for California as part of their calculations.
  • PathWays PA cites the Self-Sufficiency Standard frequently in its publications, including Investing in Pennsylvania’s Families: Economic Opportunities for All, a policy publication looking at the needs of working families in Pennsylvania earning less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. PathWays PA also uses the Standard as a measure on which to base tax credits, healthcare reform, and other needs.
  • Rise Together Bay Area and Insight Center for Community Economic Development's report Promoting Family Economic Security in the San Francisco Bay Area Region included the Standard as a key benchmark in its economic models.
  • A 2011 article in Poverty and Public Policy titled “Determining Eligibility for Poverty-Based Assistance Programs: Comparing the Federally Established Poverty Level with the Self Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania” used the Standard as a basis for comparison.
  • The Standard was used as part of an analysis of acquiring child care subsidies in Philadelphia in the article "The Difficulty of Obtaining a Child Care Subsidy: Implications for Policy and Practice."
  • A Doctoral thesis titled "Self-Sufficiency or Status Quo: Are the Residents in Hope VI Developments Making Progress Towards Self-Sufficiency?" used the Standard for Ohio to analyze a community's progress towards self-sufficiency.
  • An Urban Planning thesis titled "Analyzing Measurements of Housing Affordability" found that the Self-Sufficiency Standard was the best measure of housing affordability of the six measures examined.
  • In the academic journal article "Communities of Concentrated Poverty: A Proposal for Oregon," Sara A. Chopp proposes using the Standard as a measure in evaluating poverty "hot spots" in Oregon communities.