Poor Law and Legal Definition

Before the 20th century welfare systems were established, poor laws provided social security legislation in England and the U.S. Being poor is typically defined according to a level of income compared to a calculated national poverty level, based upon census figures.

The following is an example of one state's statute dealing with poverty and poor persons:

"(A) "Poverty line" means the official poverty line established by the director of the United States office of management and budget and as revised by the director of the office of community services in accordance with section 673(2) of the "Community Services Block Grant Act," 95 Stat. 1609, 42 U.S.C. 9902.

(B) "Low-income person" means a person whose adjusted gross income as defined in division (A) of section 5747.01 of the Revised Code is below the poverty line as defined in division (A) of this section."