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Relative or absolute poverty in the US and EU? The battle of the rates

  • Notten, Geranda
  • Neubourg, Chris de

US poverty is much higher than poverty in Europe when a relative poverty measure is used. Using an absolute poverty measurement method, the picture looks different: poverty in some European countries is higher. This paper estimates poverty rates for all the countries of the (old) EU and the USA applying the official measurement methods of the United States (absolute) and the European Union (relative) to all the countries. The differences in poverty levels, both in time and between the 16 countries are analysed, identifying the various sources for the variance in the figures. Using annual data of the EU and the US from 1994 to 2001, we illustrate how some differences in poverty levels are inherent to the choice for an absolute or a relative approach, while other differences are related to aspects common to both absolute and relative poverty measurement but working out differently depending on the estimation method used. The results of our analysis point out that using a single figure is often misleading.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/5313/1/MPRA_paper_5313.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 5313.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision: 15 May 2007
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5313
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  1. Hulme, David & Shepherd, Andrew, 2003. "Conceptualizing Chronic Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 403-423, March.
  2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  3. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  4. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 2001. "Measuring pro-poor growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2666, The World Bank.
  5. Edward O'Boyle, 1999. "Toward an Improved Definition of Poverty," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(3), pages 281-301.
  6. Atkinson, Tony & Cantillon, Bea & Marlier, Eric & Nolan, Brian, 2002. "Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199253494, March.
  7. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
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