In 1776, Adam Smith defined poverty as the lack of those necessities that "the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without." Today, the federal poverty level represents the amount of cash income people require to meet their basic economic needs. For a single parent with two children, the poverty level was $12,641 in 1996. People living in families with incomes below the poverty level are deemed poor; those in families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level are considered low-income. Adults' reports of family income during the previous year were used to determine the share of people under the age of 65 living in poor and low-income families.
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