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Measuring Individual Vulnerability

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  • Cesar Calvo
  • Stefan Dercon

Abstract

Standard poverty analysis makes statements about deprivation after the veil of uncertainty has been lifted. This implies that there is no meaningful role for risk as part of an assessment of potentially low states of well-being. In this paper, we introduce a concept of vulnerability, as a threat of poverty, with downside risk at its core. More specifically, we define a vulnerability measure as an assessment of the magnitude of the threat of poverty, measured ex-ante, before uncertainty is resolved. We describe the welfare-economic foundations for desirable properties of a vulnerability measure and assess to what extent some measures used in empirical work abide by them. We also present two families of measures that are fully consistent with our axiomatic approach.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 229.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:229

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Keywords: Poverty; Risk; Vulnerability; Welfare Axioms;

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  1. Christiaensen, Luc. J. & Subbarao, Kalanidhi, 2004. "Toward an understanding of household vulnerability in rural Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3326, The World Bank.
  2. Ligon, Ethan & Schechter, Laura, 2002. "Measuring Vulnerability," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19899, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  3. Chris Elbers & Jan Willem Gunning & Bill Kinsey, 2007. "Growth and Risk: Methodology and Micro Evidence," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 1-20.
  4. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  5. Ravallion, Martin, 1988. "Expected Poverty under Risk-Induced Welfare Variability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(393), pages 1171-82, December.
  6. Amin, S. & Rai, A.S. & Topa, G., 2000. "Does Microcredit Reach the Poor and Vulnerable? Evidence from Nothern Bangladesh," Papers 28, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  7. Asep Suryahadi & Sudarno Sumarto, 2003. "Poverty and Vulnerability in Indonesia Before and After the Economic Crisis," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 45-64, 03.
  8. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  9. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  10. Bourguignon, Francois & Goh, Chor-ching & Kim, Dae Il, 2004. "Estimating individual vulnerability to poverty with pseudo-panel data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3375, The World Bank.
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