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Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are they Compatible? Part 5. Poverty in OECD Countries


  • Mauro Pisu



Poverty is an important policy issue in OECD countries and the recent crisis has made it even more pressing. This paper highlights poverty rate differences across countries and reviews the various policies to tackle it. The OECD-wide poverty rate has drifted up, reaching around 11% in the late 2000s. In the majority of OECD countries, children suffer from a higher poverty rate than working-age people and poverty is more wide-spread among women than men. Albeit boosting employment is essential to reduce poverty rates durably, work alone does not suffice to eliminate it as in-work poverty is a problem in many countries The redistribution system is effective in reducing poverty. Countries achieving a greater reduction in market-income poverty tend to redistribute more towards people at the bottom of the income distribution. Policies aiming at facilitating paid work along with employment-conditional cash transfers to top-up the income of low-wage workers can offer effective ways to combat poverty. Child poverty is also a major concern because of its adverse long-term effects. Countries with low levels of child poverty combine low levels of joblessness among parents with effective redistribution policies towards children. This suggests these two policy approaches are complementary and relying exclusively on only one of them is likely to be insufficient to reduce poverty among children significantly. Moins d'inégalités de revenu et plus de croissance – Ces deux objectifs sont-ils compatibles ?: Partie 5. La pauvreté dans les pays de l'OCDE La pauvreté est une question importante pour les pouvoirs publics dans les pays de l’OCDE et la récente crise a donné une plus grande acuité encore à ce problème. Ce document fait ressortir les écarts de taux de pauvreté entre les pays et examine les diverses mesures qui permettraient de remédier à cette situation. Le taux de pauvreté dans l’ensemble de la zone OCDE a augmenté pour s’établir autour de 11 % à la fin des années 2000. Dans la majorité de pays de l’OCDE, la pauvreté touche davantage les enfants que les personnes d’âge actif et elle est plus répandue parmi les femmes que parmi les hommes. Il est certes essentiel de développer l’emploi pour réduire durablement les taux de pauvreté, mais le travail seul ne suffit pas pour éliminer ce fléau car le problème des travailleurs pauvres touche de nombreux pays. Le système de redistribution est efficace pour lutter contre la pauvreté. Les pays qui arrivent à réduire davantage la pauvreté définie par le revenu marchand redistribuent généralement davantage de revenu à ceux qui se situent au bas de l’échelle. Des politiques visant à faciliter le travail rémunéré, avec des transferts subordonnés à l’exercice d’un emploi pour compléter le revenu des travailleurs à bas salaire, peuvent offrir des moyens efficaces de lutte contre la pauvreté. La pauvreté chez l’enfant pose aussi un problème majeur en raison de ses effets néfastes à long terme. Les pays où les taux de pauvreté chez l’enfant sont bas ont à la fois des taux peu élevés de chômage des parents et des politiques efficaces de redistribution en faveur des enfants. Cela donne à penser que ces deux approches sont complémentaires et que le recours à une des deux seulement ne suffit probablement pas pour réduire sensiblement la pauvreté parmi les enfants.

Suggested Citation

  • Mauro Pisu, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are they Compatible? Part 5. Poverty in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 928, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:928-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Eckerstorfer & Johannes Halak & Jakob Kapeller & Bernhard Schütz & Florian Springholz & Rafael Wildauer, 2014. "Die Vermögensverteilung in Österreich und das Aufkommenspotenzial einer Vermögenssteuer," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 40(1), pages 63-81.
    2. repec:eee:inteco:v:150:y:2017:i:c:p:80-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Isabelle Joumard & Juliana Londoño Vélez, 2013. "Income Inequality and Poverty in Colombia - Part 1. The Role of the Labour Market," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1036, OECD Publishing.

    More about this item


    child poverty; income inequality; inégalité des revenus; OCDE; OECD; pauvreté; pauvreté chez l’enfant; poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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