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Absolute Poverty: When Necessity Displaces Desire

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  • Robert C. Allen

Abstract

A new basis for an international poverty measurement is proposed based on linear programming for specifying the least cost diet and explicit budgeting for nonfood spending. This approach is superior to the World Bank's $1-a-day line because it is (i) clearly related to survival and well being; (ii) comparable across time and space since the same nutritional requirements are used everywhere while nonfood spending is tailored to climate; (iii) adjusts consumption patterns to local prices; (iv) presents no index number problems since solutions are always in local prices; and (v) requires only readily available information. The new approach implies much more poverty than the World Bank's, especially in Asia.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Allen, 2017. "Absolute Poverty: When Necessity Displaces Desire," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(12), pages 3690-3721, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:12:p:3690-3721
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20161080
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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