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poverty line

Definition of Poverty Line

(noun) The minimum level of income determined per locality to remain above a state of poverty.

Example of Poverty Line

  • According to the United States Department of Health & Human Services in 2013, the poverty line for an individual is $13,230 and for a family or household of four $27,090 (Source: 2013 Poverty Guidelines).

Poverty Line Pronunciation

Usage Notes

  • Plural: poverty lines
  • The term was popularized by Charles Booth (1840–1916).
  • Also called:
    • poverty level
    • poverty threshold

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Poverty Line

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “poverty line.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 20, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/poverty-line/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

poverty line. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/poverty-line/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “poverty line.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 20, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/poverty-line/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“poverty line.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/poverty-line/>.