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Region-Specific versus Country-specific Poverty Lines in Analysis of Poverty

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  • Magne Mogstad
  • Audun Langørgen
  • Rolf Aaberge

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

Abstract

The standard practice in most OECD countries is to measure and evaluate poverty on the basis of a poverty line defined as a specific proportion of the median equivalent income within a country. However, this approach disregards regional differences in prices and needs within a country and may, therefore, provide an incomplete and even an incorrect picture of the extent as well as the geographical and demographical composition of the poor. To account for differences in prices and needs, this paper introduces an alternative method of measuring poverty based on a set of region-specific poverty lines. Applying Norwegian household register data for 2001 we find that the overall extent of poverty is only slightly affected by the change in definition of poverty line. However, the geographical as well as the demographical composition of poverty are shown to depend heavily on whether the method of measuring poverty relies on region-specific or country-specific thresholds. As expected, the results demonstrate that the analysis of poverty based on country-specific thresholds produces downward biased poverty rates in urban areas and upward biased poverty rates in rural areas. Moreover, when region-specific poverty thresholds form the basis of the poverty analysis, we find that the poverty rates among young singles and non-western immigrants are significantly higher than what is suggested by previous empirical evidence based on a joint country-specific poverty line.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 408.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:408

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Keywords: Measurement of poverty; poverty line; geographical and demographical poverty profile;

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  1. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  2. Taryn Ann Galloway & Rolf Aaberge, 2005. "Assimilation effects on poverty among immigrants in Norway," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 691-718, November.
  3. John E. Roemer, 2002. "Equality of opportunity: A progress report," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 455-471, April.
  4. Buhmann, Brigitte, et al, 1988. "Equivalence Scales, Well-Being, Inequality, and Poverty: Sensitivity Estimates across Ten Countries Using the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(2), pages 115-42, June.
  5. Magne Mogstad & Audun Langørgen & Rolf Aaberge, 2007. "Region-specific versus country-specific poverty lines in analysis of poverty," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 115-122, April.
  6. van Praag, Bernard M S & Hagenaars, Aldi J M & van Weeren, Hans, 1982. "Poverty in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 28(3), pages 345-59, September.
  7. Smeeding, Timothy M, et al, 1993. "Poverty, Inequality, and Family Living Standards Impacts across Seven Nations: The Effect of Noncash Subsidies for Health, Education and Housing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 229-56, September.
  8. Ravallion, M., 1998. "Poverty Lines in Theory and Practice," Papers 133, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  9. Quentin Wodon, 1999. "Regional poverty lines, poverty profiles, and targeting," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(12), pages 809-812.
  10. Sen, Amartya, 1979. " Issues in the Measurement of Poverty," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(2), pages 285-307.
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Cited by:
  1. Magne Mogstad & Audun Langørgen & Rolf Aaberge, 2005. "Region-Specific versus Country-specific Poverty Lines in Analysis of Poverty," Discussion Papers 408, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  2. Andrea Brandolini, 2007. "Measurement of income distribution in supranational entities: the case of the European Union," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 623, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  3. Rolf Aaberge & Audun Langørgen & Magne Mogstad & Marit Østensen, 2008. "The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates," Discussion Papers 551, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  4. Magne Mogstad, 2007. "Measuring Income Inequality under Restricted Interpersonal Comparability," Discussion Papers 498, Research Department of Statistics Norway.

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