New York Times Gray Matter columnists Mark R. Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl share their newly constructed economic risk calculator, which allows users to asses where their individual risk of experiencing poverty stands in the five, 10, and 15 years.
Using hundreds of thousands of case records, Rank and Hirschl created the tool to estimate the likelihood—based on factors like race, education, marital status and age— of an individual's falling below the poverty line, which, in 2015, was approximately $24,000 for a family of four.
The idea behind our approach is similar to the idea behind a doctor’s ability to predict your risk of heart disease. Using several pieces of information (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), your doctor can make a reasonable estimate of your chances of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. These numbers are based on statistical patterns derived from a very large sample of families that make up the Framingham Heart Study, the longitudinal study of cardiovascular health that began in 1948.