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The dynamics of poverty and its determinants - the case of the Northeast of Brazil and its states


  • Fiess, Norbert M.
  • Verner, Dorte


In the northeast region of Brazil, the poverty picture of the past two decades reveals large fluctuations in the poverty level, and poverty depth. Findings based on the Brazilian annual household survey (Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra Domiciliar, PNAD) datasets from 1981-99 reveal that individual characteristics such as education, experience, and labor market association of the household head are important correlates of poverty. Taking these into account, data reveal that a Nordestino (northeasterner) is 24percentage points more likely to fall below the indigent poverty line than other Brazilians. Analyses also reveal large differences in poverty levels by education, and these differences have increased over time. The authors observe that the probability of being poor is decreasing with increasing educational attainment. The gender of the household head does not matter for poverty, according to the poverty profile. But when the authors control for education and other individual characteristics, female-headed households have a much larger likelihood of being poor than male-headed households. Household size also matters for poverty. Larger households are more likely to experience poverty than smaller households, and the effect is concave. Moreover, households with children under age 5 appear more likely to fall below the poverty line, than families with no children below age 5. The presence of old-aged people (above 65 years) in the household is an important factor contributing to poverty reduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiess, Norbert M. & Verner, Dorte, 2004. "The dynamics of poverty and its determinants - the case of the Northeast of Brazil and its states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3259, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3259

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
    2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    3. Woden, Q.T. & Ayres, W. & Barenstein, M. & Hicks, N. & Lee, K. & Maloney, W. & Peeters, P. & Siaens, C. & Yitzjaki, S., 2000. "Poverty and Policy in Latin America and Caribeean," Papers 467, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    4. Francisco de Hollanda Guimarães Ferreira & Peter Lanjouw & Marcelo Neri, 2000. "A new poverty profile for Brazil using PPV, PNAD and census data," Textos para discussão 418, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    5. Amadeo, Edward Joaquim & Neri, Marcelo Cortes, 2000. "Macroeconomic policy and poverty in Brazil," FGV/EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 373, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2004. "Inequality and Economic Development in Brazil," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14913, March.
    2. Blom, Andreas & Holm-Nielsen, Lauritz & Verner, Dorte, 2001. "Education, earnings, and inequality in Brazil, 1982-98 - implications for education policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2686, The World Bank.
    3. World Bank, 2007. "Brazil : Measuring Poverty Using Household Consumption," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8037, The World Bank.
    4. World Bank, 2002. "Brazil Gender Review : Issues and Recommendations," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15421, The World Bank.


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