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The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates

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Abstract

Despite a broad consensus on the need to account for the value of public services and geographical cost of living differences on the measurement of poverty, there is little reliable evidence on how these factors actually affect poverty estimates. Unlike the standard approach in studies of the distribution of public services, this paper employs a method for valuing sector-specific local public services that accounts for differences between municipalities in the costs and capacity to produce public services. Furthermore, recipient frequencies in various demographic groups are used as the basis for determining the allocation of the value of these services on citizens of the municipalities. Geographical differences in living costs are accounted for by using municipal housing price indices or by replacing the country-specific poverty line with municipal-specific poverty lines. Applying Norwegian register data for the period 1993-2001, we find that disregarding the value of local public services and geographic cost of living differences yields a misleading picture of poverty.

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  • Rolf Aaberge & Audun Langørgen & Magne Mogstad & Marit Østensen, 2008. "The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates," Discussion Papers 551, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:551
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
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    Keywords

    Poverty; public services; in-kind transfers; geographical cost of living differences; housing price indices; municipal-specific poverty lines;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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