Income poverty and multiple deprivations in a high-income country: The case of the United States


Objectives: The objective of this study is to develop a measure of multiple deprivations for the United States that is similar to those used on the international stage as multidimensional poverty. The latter is understood broadly as a deprivation of well-being across multiple dimensions rather than purely as a lack of income or other financial resources.

Methods: Using Current Population Survey and American Community Survey data, this study develops a measure of the joint distribution of multiple deprivations in the United States, in other words, a measure of the extent to which different deprivations are experienced by the same individuals.

Results: The experience of multiple deprivations affects 15 percent of Americans. An estimated 17.1 million Americans, 5.5 percent of the population, experience multiple deprivations while they are not income poor. The odds of experiencing multiple deprivations are significantly higher for Hispanics, immigrants, and persons with disabilities.

Conclusions: Income poverty is not a reliable proxy to measure multiple deprivations. Further measurement efforts are needed on overlapping multiple deprivations in the United States as such measures can be used in policy evaluation and monitoring.


Institute on Disability

Publication Date


Journal Title

Social Science Quarterly



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



© 2016 by the Southwestern Social Science Association