IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

International Comparisons of Poverty Intensity: Index Decomposition and Bootstrap Inference


  • Lars Osberg
  • Kuan Xu


This paper proposes an alternative formulation for the Sen-Shorrocks-Thon (SST) index of poverty intensity that is appropriate for survey data with sampling weights. It also decomposes the SST index into the poverty rate, the average poverty gap ratio among the poor, and the overall Gini index of poverty gap ratios. To account for sampling variation in estimates of poverty intensity, this paper uses the bootstrap method to compute confidence intervals and presents international comparisons using Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data from the 1970s to the 1990s. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses indicate that the percentage change in poverty intensity can be approximated by the sum of percentage changes in the poverty rate and average poverty gap ratio, since changes in the overall Gini index of poverty gap ratios are negligible. In the early 1970s poverty intensity in Canada and the United States was almost indistinguishable, but in the 1970s Canadian poverty intensity decreased. Large increases in poverty intensity occurred in the 1980s in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden.

Suggested Citation

  • Lars Osberg & Kuan Xu, 2000. "International Comparisons of Poverty Intensity: Index Decomposition and Bootstrap Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 51-81.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:1:p:51-81

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: A subscripton is required to access pdf files. Pay per article is available.

    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. Burkhauser, Richard V & Smeeding, Timothy M & Merz, Joachim, 1996. "Relative Inequality and Poverty in Germany and the United States Using Alternative Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 381-400, December.
    2. Phipps, Shelley & Garner, Thesia I, 1994. "Are Equivalence Scales the Same for the United States and Canada?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 1-17, March.
    3. Rongve, I., 1995. "Statistical Inference for Poverty Indices with Fixed Poverty Lines," Papers 54, Regina - Department of Economics.
    4. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card93-1, January.
    5. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-231, March.
    6. Wolfson, Michael, 1986. "Stasis amid Change--Income Inequality in Canada, 1965-1983," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 32(4), pages 337-369, December.
    7. Takayama, Noriyuki, 1979. "Poverty, Income Inequality, and Their Measures: Professor Sen's Axiomatic Approach Reconsidered," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 747-759, May.
    8. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1995. "Revisiting the Sen Poverty Index," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1225-1230, September.
    9. 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)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty


    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:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:1:p:51-81. 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: (). 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.