Those who favor a relative measure of poverty argue that the poverty line is too low. They maintain that food expenditures are now about 25% of a family's budget, and therefore, food expenditures should be multiplied by a factor of 4 rather than 3 (the current practice) to calculate the poverty line.
Those who favor an absolute measure of poverty argue that the current poverty line is too high because poverty figures don't include in-kind transfers such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). Furthermore, poverty measures do not account for underreporting of income.
In the U.S., the Lorenz curve is closer to the diagonal than is the curve for most developing countries. This means that income is more equally distributed in the U.S. than it is in most developing countries.
The Lorenz curve for the U.S. is further away from the diagonal line than the curve for most developed countries. This means that income is less equally distributed in the U.S. than it is in most developed countries.
The U.S. definition of poverty is that a family is in poverty if it has an income equal to or less than three times an average family's minimum food expenditures. It is both an absolute and a relative measure of poverty. It is in part an absolute measure because the minimum food budget used in the definition was determined in the 1960s and food today is a much smaller portion of people's budgets. It is in part a relative measure because the specific dollar amounts are adjusted by the overall rate of inflation, which is greater tan the change in the prices of food.