Basic Economic Security Tables™Index (BEST)

The Basic Economic Security Tables™ Index (BEST) was developed by Wider Opportunities for Women and the Center for Social Development at Washington University-St. Louis, and is maintained by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The BEST addresses several pieces of the larger basic economic security picture–basic needs, savings, and employment-based benefits–and allows a broad and complete view of worker needs and families’ prospects for achieving the economic security so critical to their futures and to their communities. The BEST improves on other budget standards by presenting the specific needs of more than 400 family types–all possible 1- or 2-worker families with up to six children–for every state, county, and major city in the United States.” —

The BEST is distinct from the  U.S. poverty threshold since HSS uses the poverty threshold mainly for statistical purpose. The official poverty threshold has little relation to what it takes to support a family. BEST provides a more realistic estimate of the actual cost to support a family and build the assets necessary for economic security.