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Household Needs and Poverty: With Application to Spain and the U.K


  • Duclos, Jean-Yves
  • Mercader-Prats, Magda


The authors examine the sensitivity of U.K.-Spanish poverty comparisons to variations in the dependence of equivalence scales on household size and composition, using evidence from national household budget surveys. They sum up these comparisons using subjective confidence levels. Taking into account the dissimilarities in the distribution of incomes and needs across countries, the authors find, inter alia, that although the poor are typically more numerous in Spain than in Britain, the actual headcount differences may vary by up to 10 percent of the population when needs allowances are altered, even when kept the same across the two countries. Comparisons of poverty composition across the two countries are also very sensitive to the choice of equivalence scale parameters. Generally, however, the proportion of single adults among the poor is much less important in Spain than in Britain, the reverse being true for households with three or more adults. Copyright 1999 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Duclos, Jean-Yves & Mercader-Prats, Magda, 1999. "Household Needs and Poverty: With Application to Spain and the U.K," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(1), pages 77-98, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:45:y:1999:i:1:p:77-98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Banks, James & Johnson, Paul, 1994. "Equivalence Scale Relativities Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 883-890, July.
    2. Atkinson, A B, 1992. "Measuring Poverty and Differences in Family Composition," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(233), pages 1-16, February.
    3. Coulter, Fiona A E & Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1992. "Differences in Needs and Assessment of Income Distributions," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 77-124, April.
    4. Bourguignon, Francois, 1989. "Family size and social utility : Income distribution dominance criteria," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-80, September.
    5. Phipps, Shelley & Garner, Thesia I, 1994. "Are Equivalence Scales the Same for the United States and Canada?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 1-17, March.
    6. 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 115-142, June.
    7. McClements, L. D., 1977. "Equivalence scales for children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 191-210, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


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