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International Comparisons of Poverty Intensity: Index Decomposition and Bootstrap Inference

Listed author(s):
  • 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.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 35 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 51-81

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:1:p:51-81
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  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, June.
  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.
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