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How to Compare Apples and Oranges: Poverty Measurement Based on Different Definitions of Consumption

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  • Lanjouw, Jean Olson
  • Lanjouw, Peter

Abstract

Poverty rates calculated on the basis of household consumption expenditures are routinely compared across countries and time. The surveys which underlie these comparisons typically differ in the types of food and non-food expenditures included, often in ways which are easily overlooked by analysts. With several examples we demonstrate that these commonly occurring variations in expenditure definitions can give rise to marked differences in poverty rates where there are no real differences in well-being. We show that one approach to calculating poverty lines, used with the headcount measure of poverty, can allow comparisons based on data with different definitions of consumption. In addition to allowing comparative poverty analysis using existing survey data, the results suggest that poverty monitoring could be done effectively at lower cost by alternating detailed expenditure surveys with far more abbreviated surveys. Copyright 2001 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

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  • Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Lanjouw, Peter, 2001. "How to Compare Apples and Oranges: Poverty Measurement Based on Different Definitions of Consumption," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 25-42, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:47:y:2001:i:1:p:25-42
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    1. Gemmell, Norman, 1985. "The Incidence of Government Expenditure and Redistribution in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 52(27), pages 335-344, August.
    2. Aaberge, Rolf & Langorgen, Audun, 2003. "Fiscal and Spending Behavior of Local Governments: Identification of Price Effects When Prices Are Not Observed," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(1-2), pages 125-161, October.
    3. Audun Langørgen & Rolf Aaberge, 1999. "A Structural Approach for Measuring Fiscal Disparities," Discussion Papers 254, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    4. Aaberge, Rolf & Melby, Ingrid, 1998. "The Sensitivity of Income Inequality to Choice of Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 565-569.
    5. Ruggeri, G C & Van Wart, D & Howard, R, 1994. "The Redistributional Impact of Government Spending in Canada," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(2), pages 212-243.
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