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Measuring economic inequality: deprivation, economising and possessing

  • Borooah, Vani

One way of measuring the deprivation or poverty of persons is to use money-based measures: a person is regarded as ‘poor’ if his/her income (or expenditure) falls below a poverty line value. Such an approach – usually termed poverty analysis – has spawned a large literature embodying several sophisticated measures of poverty. The downside to this is that low income or expenditure may not be very good indicators of deprivation. Another way, usually termed ‘deprivation analysis’, is to define an index whose value, for each person, is the number (or proportion) of items from a prescribed list that he/she possesses: persons are then regarded as ‘deprived’ if their index value is below some threshold. This offers an alternative method of identifying deprived persons. The disadvantage of deprivation analysis is that it measures deprivation exclusively in terms of the proportion of deprived persons within the total number of persons. The purpose of this paper is to bridge the gap between poverty and deprivation analysis by constructing a wider set of measures of economic inequality and by showing, with data for Northern Ireland, how they might be applied. The result is an analysis sensitive to intra-population heterogeneity.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19422.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Publication status: Published in Social Policy and Society 1.6(2007): pp. 99-109
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19422
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  1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  2. Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 1996. "Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287858, March.
  3. Zheng, Buhong, 1997. " Aggregate Poverty Measures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 123-62, June.
  4. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
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