IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Population growth and poverty measurement


  • Satya Chakravarty


  • Ravi Kanbur
  • Diganta Mukherjee


If the absolute number of poor people goes up, but the fraction of people in poverty comes down, has poverty gone up or gone down? The economist’s instinct, framed by population replication axioms that undergird standard measures of poverty, is to say that in this case poverty has gone down. But this goes against the instinct of those who work directly with the poor, for whom the absolute numbers notion makes more sense as they cope with more poor on the streets or in the soup kitchens. This paper attempts to put these two conceptions of poverty into a common framework. Specifically, it presents an axiomatic development of a family of poverty measures without a population replication axiom. This family has an intuitive link to standard measures, but it also allows one or other of “the absolute numbers” or the “fraction in poverty” conception to be given greater weight by the choice of relevant parameters. We hope that this family will prove useful in empirical and policy work where it is important to give both views of poverty—the economist’s and the practitioner’s—their due.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Satya Chakravarty & Ravi Kanbur & Diganta Mukherjee, 2006. "Population growth and poverty measurement," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 26(3), pages 471-483, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:26:y:2006:i:3:p:471-483
    DOI: 10.1007/s00355-006-0081-7

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    2. Broome, John, 1996. "The Welfare Economics of Population," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 177-193, April.
    3. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1995. "Revisiting the Sen Poverty Index," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1225-1230, September.
    4. Blakorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1980. "Ethical Indices for the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1053-1060, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Subramanian, S., 2004. "Indicators of Inequality and Poverty," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrea Brandolini, 2010. "On Analyzing the World Distribution of Income," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 24(1), pages 1-37, January.
    3. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:9:y:2003:i:2:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Edward Anderson & Lucio Esposito, 2014. "On the joint evaluation of absolute and relative deprivation," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(3), pages 411-428, September.
    5. Diganta Mukherjee, 2008. "Poverty measures incorporating variable rate of alleviation due to population growth," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 31(1), pages 97-107, June.
    6. Haider A. Khan, 2004. "On Mortality and Poverty: An Axiomatic Approach With A Modified Index," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-281, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    7. Julia Paxton, 2003. "A poverty outreach index and its application to microfinance," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 9(2), pages 1-10.
    8. Cockburn, John & Duclos, Jean-Yves & Zabsonré, Agnès, 2014. "Is global social welfare increasing? A critical-level enquiry," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 151-162.
    9. Hassoun, Nicole & Subramanian, S., 2012. "An aspect of variable population poverty comparisons," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 238-241.
    10. Claudio Zoli, 2009. "Variable population welfare and poverty orderings satisfying replication properties," Working Papers 69/2009, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    11. Lucio Esposito & Francesca Majorano, 2011. "What principles should inform poverty indices? Insights from a cross-country survey," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 387-420, October.
    12. James E. Foster & Joel Greer & Erik Thorbecke, 2010. "The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) Poverty Measures: Twenty-Five Years Later," Working Papers 2010-14, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:26:y:2006:i:3:p:471-483. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.