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Measuring Vulnerability

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  • Ethan Ligon

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Laura Schechter

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

Traditional poverty measures neglect several important dimensions of household welfare. In this paper we construct a measure of "vulnerability" which allows us to quantify the welfare loss associated with poverty as well as the loss associated with any of a variety of different sources of uncertainty. Applying our measure to a panel dataset from Bulgaria in 1994, we find that poverty and risk play roughly equal roles in reducing welfare. Aggregate shocks are more important than idiosyncratic sources of risk, but households headed by an employed, educated male are less vulnerable to aggregate shocks than are other households. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2003

Suggested Citation

  • Ethan Ligon & Laura Schechter, 2003. "Measuring Vulnerability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 95-102, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:113:y:2003:i:486:p:c95-c102
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ravallion, Martin, 1988. "Expected Poverty under Risk-Induced Welfare Variability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(393), pages 1171-1182, December.
    2. Christiaensen, Luc J.M. & Boisvert, Richard N., 2000. "On Measuring Household Food Vulnerability: Case Evidence from Northern Mali," Working Papers 127676, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    3. Amin, Sajeda & Rai, Ashok S. & Topa, Giorgio, 2003. "Does microcredit reach the poor and vulnerable? Evidence from northern Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 59-82, February.
    4. Glewwe, P. & Hall, G., 1995. "Who is Most Vulnerable to Macroeconomic Shocks? Hypotheses Tests Using Panel Data from Peru," Papers 117, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    5. Chris Elbers & Jean O. Lanjouw & Peter Lanjouw, 2003. "Micro--Level Estimation of Poverty and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 355-364, January.
    6. Ethan Ligon & Laura Schechter, 2003. "Measuring Vulnerability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 95-102, March.
    7. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    8. Pritchett, Lant & Suryahadi, Asep & Sumarto, Sudarno, 2000. "Quantifying vulnerability to poverty - a proposed measure, applied to Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2437, The World Bank.
    9. Gérard Roland, 2004. "Transition and Economics: Politics, Markets, and Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026268148x, January.
    10. Glewwe, Paul & Hall, Gillette, 1998. "Are some groups more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks than others? Hypothesis tests based on panel data from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 181-206, June.
    11. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2000. "Vulnerability, seasonality and poverty in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 25-53.
    12. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
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