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Comparing Poverty Rates Internationally: Lessons from Recent Studies in Developed Countries

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  • Atkinson, Anthony B

Abstract

Studies comparing poverty in different countries frequently inform the evaluation of past policies and the formulation of future policies for reducing poverty. If the comparisons are to be a valid foundation for such assessments, in particular if they are to be a guide to the effective allocation of funds, the underlying concepts must be examined and defined. This article discusses four issues that are critical in this respect: the choice of poverty indicator, the determination of the poverty line, the unit of analysis, and the choice of equivalance scale. A selection of studies of poverty in countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is used to show how the choices made in defining these indicators affect the findings about the extent and composition of the poor population. Although the context is different, the experience of rich countries may yield useful lessons for developing countries. Copyright 1991 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 5 (1991)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 3-21

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:5:y:1991:i:1:p:3-21

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