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Kernel Density Estimation Basedon Grouped Data; The Case of Poverty Assessment

  • Camelia Minoiu
  • Sanjay Reddy

We analyze the performance of kernel density methods applied to grouped data to estimate poverty (as applied in Sala-i-Martin, 2006, QJE). Using Monte Carlo simulations and household surveys, we find that the technique gives rise to biases in poverty estimates, the sign and magnitude of which vary with the bandwidth, the kernel, the number of datapoints, and across poverty lines. Depending on the chosen bandwidth, the $1/day poverty rate in 2000 varies by a factor of 1.8, while the $2/day headcount in 2000 varies by 287 million people. Our findings challenge the validity and robustness of poverty estimates derived through kernel density estimation on grouped data.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 08/183.

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Length: 34
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:08/183
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  1. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2001. "The disturbing 'rise' of global income inequality," Economics Working Papers 616, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2002.
  2. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2002. "The world distribution of income (estimated from individual country distributions)," Economics Working Papers 615, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2002.
  3. Branko Milanovic, 2002. "True World Income Distribution, 1988 and 1993: First Calculation Based on Household Surveys Alone," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 51-92, January.
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  5. Shorrocks, Anthony & Wan, Guanghua, 2008. "Ungrouping Income Distributions: Synthesising Samples for Inequality and Poverty Analysis," Working Paper Series RP2008/16, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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  7. Nanak Kakwani & Hyun H. Son, 2006. "New Global Poverty Counts," Working Papers 29, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  8. Angus Deaton, 2003. "How to Monitor Poverty for the Millennium Development Goals," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 353-378.
  9. Wu, Ximing & Perloff, Jeffrey M., 2007. "GMM estimation of a maximum entropy distribution with interval data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(2), pages 532-546, June.
  10. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2004. "How Have the World's Poorest Fared since the Early 1980s?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 141-169.
  11. Jahangir Aziz & Christoph Duenwald, 2001. "China's Provincial Growth Dynamics," Development and Comp Systems 0012004, EconWPA.
  12. Angus Deaton, 2004. "Measuring poverty in a growing world (or measuring growth in a poor world)," Working Papers 178, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  13. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2006. "The World Distribution of Income: Falling Poverty and ... Convergence, Period," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 351-397, May.
  14. Berry, Albert & Bourguignon, Francois & Morrisson, Christian, 1983. "Changes in the World Distribution of Income between 1950 and 1977," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(37), pages 331-50, June.
  15. Shaohua Chen & Ravallion, Martin, 2000. "How did the world's poorest fare in the 1990s ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2409, The World Bank.
  16. Roberto Zelli & Maria Grazia Pittau, 2006. "Empirical evidence of income dynamics across EU regions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 605-628.
  17. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 2004. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3408, The World Bank.
  18. Marron, J. S. & Nolan, D., 1988. "Canonical kernels for density estimation," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 195-199, December.
  19. Maria Grazia Pittau, 2005. "Fitting Regional Income Distributions in the European Union," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(2), pages 135-161, 04.
  20. Jahangir Aziz & Christoph Duenwald, 2001. "China's Provincial Growth Dynamics," IMF Working Papers 01/3, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
  22. Lant Pritchett, 2006. "Who is Not Poor? Dreaming of a World Truly Free of Poverty," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
  23. Quah, Danny, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 1355, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Danny Quah, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp0280, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  25. Sanjay G. Reddy & Camelia Minoiu, 2007. "Has World Poverty Really Fallen?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(3), pages 484-502, 09.
  26. Adonis Yatchew, 1998. "Nonparametric Regression Techniques in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 669-721, June.
  27. Yotopoulos, Pan A, 1989. "Distributions of Real Income: Within Countries and by World Income Classes," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 35(4), pages 357-76, December.
  28. Sanjay G. Reddy & Sujata Visaria & Muhammad Asali, 2006. "Inter-country Comparisons of Poverty Based on a Capability Approach: An Empirical Exercise," Working Papers 27, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
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