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Measuring Economic Insecurity in Rich and Poor Nations

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  • Lars Osberg

    ()

  • Andrew Sharpe

    ()

Abstract

In both rich and poor nations, worrying about future economic dangers subtracts from the present well-being of individuals, which is why affluent societies have complex systems of private insurance and public social protection to reduce the costs of economic hazards. However, the citizens of poor nations (i.e. most of humanity) typically find both private insurance and public social protection to be largely unavailable – their lives are both poorer and riskier. How can one measure economic insecurity in these very different contexts? Because rich nations have better, more easily available data, Section 2 illustrates the measurement of economic insecurity and its importance to trends in relative economic wellbeing in four affluent OECD countries between 1980 and 2009. Section 3 then uses available data to estimate the level of economic security in approximately 2008 in a comparable way in a broader sample of countries. To reflect better the reality of developing countries, it: (1) includes the volatility of food production in the risk of loss of livelihood; (2) adjusts the risks of health care costs to consider the proportion of household spending on food (which is non-discretionary, and large in poor countries) and (3) adds adult male mortality to the risk of divorce in calculation of the risk of single parent poverty. Section 4 discusses some implications and concludes.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its series CSLS Research Reports with number 2012-03.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:sls:resrep:1203

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  1. anonymous, 1999. "Western economic developments," Western economic developments, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  2. Naude, Wim & Santos-Paulino, Amelia U. & McGillivray, Mark, 2009. "Vulnerability in Developing Countries," Working Paper Series rb02-08, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Jishnu Das & Quy-Toan Do & Jed Friedman & David McKenzie, 2008. "Mental Health Patterns and Consequences: Results from Survey Data in Five Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(1), pages 31-55, August.
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  7. Christiaensen, Luc. J. & Subbarao, Kalanidhi, 2004. "Toward an understanding of household vulnerability in rural Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3326, The World Bank.
  8. Osberg, Lars & Sharpe, Andrew, 2002. "An Index of Economic Well-Being for Selected OECD Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 291-316, September.
  9. Lars Osberg, 1998. "Economic Insecurity," Discussion Papers 0088, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
  10. McCulloch, Neil & Calandrino, Michele, 2003. "Vulnerability and Chronic Poverty in Rural Sichuan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 611-628, March.
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  21. Richard G. Anderson & Charles S. Gascon, 2008. "Offshoring, economic insecurity, and the demand for social insurance," Working Papers 2008-003, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  22. Glewwe, Paul & Hall, Gillette, 1998. "Are some groups more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks than others? Hypothesis tests based on panel data from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 181-206, June.
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