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Poverty Indices and Policy Analysis


  • Myles, John
  • Picot, Garnett


Our aim in this paper is to show how recent developments in the theory and methods of poverty measurement can be applied to provide more accurate descriptions of poverty trends to the typical consumers of these statistics--policy analysts, policy-makers and their critics. Since Amartya Sen's (1976) classic critique of the "headcount" approach to poverty measurement, considerable progress has been made in constructing axiomatically-driven measures of "poverty intensity." These measures have had little influence outside the small world of experts who devised them largely because their mathematical representation has made their meaning obscure to potential users. We focus on the Sen-Shorrocks-Thon (SST) index and its elaboration by Osberg and Xu which provides the information contained in the index in a format that is easily accessible within traditional categories of poverty analysis. The SST index and its decomposition provide an analytical framework for discussing the underlying components of aggregate trends that allows for unambiguous answers to the usual policy-related questions concerning the components of change as well as their magnitude and direction. Copyright 2000 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Myles, John & Picot, Garnett, 2000. "Poverty Indices and Policy Analysis," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(2), pages 161-179, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:46:y:2000:i:2:p:161-79

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lars Osberg & Kuan Xu, 2008. "How Should We Measure Poverty in a Changing World? Methodological Issues and Chinese Case Study," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 419-441, May.
    2. Bibi, Sami & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 2007. "Equity and policy effectiveness with imperfect targeting," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 109-140, May.
    3. Sarel van der Walt, 2004. "A Multidimensional Analysis of Poverty in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa," Working Papers 03/2004, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Kuan Xu & Lars Osberg, 2002. "On Sen's Approach to Poverty Measures and Recent Developments," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive sensw, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
    5. Kuan Xu & Lars Osberg, 2002. "The social welfare implications, decomposability, and geometry of the Sen family of poverty indices," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 138-152, February.
    6. Heikki Hiilamo & Reijo Sund & Seppo Sallila, 2004. "Rethinking the Measures of Poverty," LIS Working papers 368, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. Birgit Kuchler & Jan Goebel, 2003. "Smoothed Income Poverty in European Countries," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 352, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Gregoire, Philippe, 2002. "Absolute and Relative Deprivation and the Measurement of Poverty," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(4), pages 471-492, December.
    9. David Brady, 2005. "Structural Theory and Relative Poverty in Rich Western Democracies, 1969-2000," LIS Working papers 407, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    10. David Brady, 2002. "Rethinking the Sociological Measurement of Poverty," LIS Working papers 264, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

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