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Relative or absolute poverty lines : a new approach

  • David (David Patrick) Madden

When measuring poverty over time analysts must choose the value of the income elasticity of the poverty line, which essentially determines whether an absolute or relative poverty line is being used. The choice of this parameter is ultimately a value judgement but this paper suggests an approach which has some empirical basis. Borrowing from the life-style and deprivation approach to poverty various dimensions of poverty and deprivation are identified and the income elasticity of these items is used as the income elasticity of the poverty line. Data from the 1987 and 1994 Irish Household Budget Surveys suggest an upper bound of 0.7 for this parameter. Poverty measures using a number of values of the income elasticity of the poverty line are presented and test statistics are presented to determine whether observed differences in poverty measures are statistically significant.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 199909.

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Date of creation: Apr 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:199909
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  1. Callan, Tim & Nolan, Brian & Walsh, John R. & Nestor, Richard, 1999. "Income Tax and Social Welfare Policies," Papers BP2000/2, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  2. Kay, J. A. & Keen, M. J. & Morris, C. N., 1984. "Estimating consumption from expenditure data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 169-181.
  3. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:2:p:603-640 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  6. Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1984. "Statistical models for zero expenditures in household budgets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 59-80.
  7. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
  8. repec:esr:chaptr:jacb199808 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Blundell, Richard & Meghir, Costas, 1987. "Bivariate alternatives to the Tobit model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 179-200.
  10. Foster, James E, 1998. "Absolute versus Relative Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 335-41, May.
  11. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  12. Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 1999. "Poverty and Inequality in Ireland: A Comparison using Measures of Income and Consumption," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n860399, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  13. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  14. Desai, Meghnad & Shah, Anup, 1988. "An Econometric Approach to the Measurement of Poverty," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 505-22, September.
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