Selectivity as it relates to poverty occurs when people are the recipients of benefits based on their needs. Means testing is used to determine if an individual or family is eligible for government assistance. The decision is ultimately based on whether or not the individual or family has the “means” to exist without the help. Different countries use disparate approaches to this. In the United States, means testing is employed to test for eligibility for Medicaid and relief from debts through bankruptcy. Its use can be traced back to the Depression era and was again popular in the 1960s to decide worthiness for the Food Stamp Program.

When Ross Perot was running for president in 1992 he suggested the use of a means test to screen ...

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