The 2015 Noble Prize winner in economics, Angus Deaton, warned against measuring economic well-being based upon income alone. National data like the unemployment and poverty rates offer a specific view of poverty in America but do not tell the full story. Another way to describe the state of society’s most vulnerable population is by looking at consumption-based needs – food, housing, transportation, etc.
Previously, nonprofit organizations have not been very involved in tracking poverty. Instead, their missions have been to directly assist the poor. Recently, however, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy partnered with the Salvation Army to evaluate whether their service data could be used to accurately measure poverty in America. From over 230 service variables, the researchers created a Human Needs Index (HNI) using seven key variables that can help policy makers and social-services providers understand the country’s most acute areas of need more quickly and effectively. This new index focuses on consumption, not income. The purpose of developing a consumption based measure of poverty was to allow for evaluation of whether someone can adequately meet life’s fundamental needs.
See more here… Human Needs Index