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Measuring Poverty


  • Angus Deaton


Although we have more data than ever before at our disposal, measuring poverty remains a controversial issue. This paper discusses the ambiguity that arises from using different definitions and data sources in world poverty measurement. It opens with a critical review of the different procedures to establish poverty lines and the various measures of poverty level, including the headcount ratio, poverty gap and capabilities approach. It then goes on to examine the issues involved in measuring world poverty, with reference both to the difficulty of comparing poverty between different countries and the use of representative household surveys versus national accounts for poverty measurement. Although significant differences exist, the general evidence shows that, apart from India and China, poverty in the world is getting worse; but it is also true that nearly half of the world’s population live in places where poverty levels are falling.

Suggested Citation

  • Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 1, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:rar:journl:0012

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    Other versions of this item:

    • Angus Deaton, 2004. "Measuring poverty," Working Papers 170, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bettio, Francesca & Villa, Paola, 1998. "A Mediterranean Perspective on the Breakdown of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 137-171, March.
    2. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    3. Francesco C. Billari & Chris Wilson, 2001. "Convergence towards diversity? Cohort dynamics in the transition to adulthood in contemporary Western Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-039, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2010. "Aging and Death under a Dollar a Day," NBER Chapters,in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 169-203 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Poverty; Politics; Poverty Lines; PPP Exchange Rates; Health;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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