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Toward an Improved Definition of Poverty

  • Edward O'Boyle

This essay attempts to show that there is a satisfactory resolution to the long-standing controversy as to the whether poverty is measured strictly in terms of a minimal-living (or absolute) standard or an income-distribution (or relative) standard, a resolution which is based on the duality of human nature. Indeed such a two-dimensional definition of poverty already is in place in Ireland—the first place (it seems) to actually sort out this controversial matter. In that sense, this author's principal concern is with the fourthquestion raised by this symposium: “What assumptions and definitions underlie your estimates which you believe to be especially important?” This essay is relatively short in length in order to present its central message more forcefully: substantial improvement in the way poverty is officially defined and measured is possible if more careful consideration is given to the reason why poverty is two-dimensional. An Appendix on how poverty is defined and measured in Ireland is attached because the arguments presented in the discourse there are relevant to the discourse on poverty in the United States.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.

Volume (Year): 57 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 281-301

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Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:57:y:1999:i:3:p:281-301
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