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Normative Choices and Tradeoffs when Measuring Poverty over Time

  • Catherine Porter and Natalie Nairi Quinn

This paper examines the aggregation of an indicator of wellbeing over time and across people to measure poverty. We characterise the general form of an intertemporal poverty measure under mild normative principles and show that it must embody an unambiguous ordering of possible trajectories of an individualÕs wellbeing. We motivate further normative principles and examine their consequences for the form of the measure, showing that some measures suggested in the literature are not consistent with these principles. We discuss additional stronger properties that may be argued to be desirable for an intertemporal or chronic poverty measure. We identify compatibilities and tradeoffs among certain of these properties. For example, a poverty measure cannot simultaneously capture chronicity of poverty and sensitivity to fluctuations. We argue that a poverty analyst should choose among these properties according to context and the particular conception of poverty she seeks to measure.

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File URL: http://www3.qeh.ox.ac.uk/pdf/ophiwp/OPHIWP056.pdf
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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series OPHI Working Papers with number ophiwp056.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp056
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  1. Joan R. Rodgers & John L. Rodgers, 1993. "Chronic Poverty in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(1), pages 25-54.
  2. Daria Mendola & Annalisa Busetta & Anna Maria Milito, 2011. "Combining the intensity and sequencing of the poverty experience: a class of longitudinal poverty indices," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 174(4), pages 953-973, October.
  3. Jaffray, Jean-Yves, 1975. "Existence of a Continuous Utility Function: An Elementary Proof," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(5-6), pages 981-83, Sept.-Nov.
  4. Natalie Nairi Quinn & Catherine Porter, 2008. "Intertemporal Poverty Measurement: Tradeoffs and Policy Options," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2008-21, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Satya Ranjan Chakravarty, 1983. "Ethically Flexible Measures of Poverty," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 16(1), pages 74-85, February.
  6. Carlos Gradín & Coral del Río & Olga Cantó, 2010. "Measuring poverty accounting for time," Working Papers 1005, Universidade de Vigo, Departamento de Economía Aplicada.
  7. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  8. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
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