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Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective

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  • Timothy Smeeding
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    Abstract

    Cross-national comparisons can teach lessons about antipoverty policy. While all nations value low poverty, high levels of economic self-reliance and equality of opportunity for younger persons, they differ dramatically in the extent to which they reach these goals. Nations also exhibit differences in the extent to which working age adults mix economic self-reliance (earned incomes), family support and government support to avoid poverty. We begin by reviewing international concepts and measures of poverty. The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) database contains the information needed to construct comparable poverty measures for more than 30 nations. It allows comparisons of the level and trend of poverty and inequality across several nations, along with considerable detail on the sources of market incomes and public policies that shape these outcomes. We will highlight the different relationships between antipoverty policy and outcomes among several countries, and consider the implications of our analysis for research and for antipoverty policy in the United States. In doing so, we will draw on a growing body of evidence that evaluates antipoverty programs in a cross-national context.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533006776526094
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
    Pages: 69-90

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:69-90

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533006776526094
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    References

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    1. Bradbury,Bruce & Jenkins,Stephen P. & Micklewright,John (ed.), 2001. "The Dynamics of Child Poverty in Industrialised Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521004923, October.
    2. Brian Nolan & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2005. "IRELAND's INCOME DISTRIBUTION IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(4), pages 537-560, December.
    3. Michael F. Förster, 2000. "Trends and Driving Factors in Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 42, OECD Publishing.
    4. Elizabeth Clark-Kauffman & Greg J. Duncan & Pamela Morris, 2003. "How Welfare Policies Affect Child and Adolescent Achievement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 299-303, May.
    5. Jantti, Markus & Danziger, Sheldon, 2000. "Income poverty in advanced countries," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 309-378 Elsevier.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Work and Leisure in the U. S. and Europe: Why so Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2068, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821759 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. James Banks & Richard Disney & Alan Duncan & John Van Reenen, 2005. "The Internationalisation of Public Welfare Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C62-C81, 03.
    9. Gottschalk, Peter & Smeeding, Timothy M., 2000. "Empirical evidence on income inequality in industrialized countries," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 261-307 Elsevier.
    10. Bradbury,Bruce & Jenkins,Stephen P. & Micklewright,John (ed.), 2001. "The Dynamics of Child Poverty in Industrialised Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521803106, October.
    11. Finis Welch, 1999. "In Defense of Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 1-17, May.
    12. Sheldon Danziger & Colleen M. Heflin & Mary Corcoran & Elizabeth Oltmans, 2002. "Does it Pay to Move from Welfare to Work?," JCPR Working Papers 254, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    13. Rebecca M. Blank & Robert F. Schoeni, 2003. "Changes in the Distribution of Children's Family Income over the 1990's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 304-308, May.
    14. Sheldon Danziger & Colleen M. Heflin & Mary E. Corcoran & Elizabeth Oltmans & Hui-Chen Wang, 2002. "Does it pay to move from welfare to work?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 671-692.
    15. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Social Protection," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 51, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sudishka Joshi & Tesfa Gebremedhin, 2010. "A Spatial Analysis of Poverty and Income Inequality in the Appalachian Region," Working Papers 201015, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
    2. Brian Jacob & Max Kapustin & Jens Ludwig, 2014. "Human Capital Effects of Anti-Poverty Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Lottery," NBER Working Papers 20164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Bibi, Sami & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 2008. "A Comparison of the Poverty Impact of Transfers, Taxes and Market Income across Five OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 3824, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2008. "Controversies about the Rise in American Inequality: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 6817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Francisco Azpitarte, 2010. "Measuring poverty using both income and wealth: A cross-country comparison between the U.S. and Spain," Working Papers 153, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    7. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees & Koster, Ferry, 2010. "Social income transfers and poverty alleviation in OECD countries," MPRA Paper 20733, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2007. "Selected Issues in the Rise of Income Inequality," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(2), pages 169-192.
    9. Andrea Brandolini & Silvia Magri & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Asset-based measurement of poverty," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 267-284.
    10. Heflin, Colleen M. & Acevedo, Sharon Kukla, 2011. "Non-income effects of welfare receipt on early childhood cognitive scores," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 634-643, May.
    11. Eva Sierminska & Andrea Brandolini & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2007. "Cross-National Comparison of Income and Wealth Status in Retirement: First Results From the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS)," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-03, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2007.
    12. Rebecca M. Blank, 2008. "Presidential address: How to improve poverty measurement in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 233-254.
    13. David Brady & Rebekah Burroway, 2012. "Targeting, Universalism, and Single-Mother Poverty: A Multilevel Analysis Across 18 Affluent Democracies," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 719-746, May.
    14. Martin, Megan & Caminada, Koen, 2009. "Welfare reform in the United States. A descriptive policy analysis," MPRA Paper 20139, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Maximo Camacho & Aida Galiano, 2009. "Income distribution changes across the 1990s expansion: the role of taxes and transfers," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(4), pages 3177-3185.

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