Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty

Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty

Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty

Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty

Synopsis

Poverty alleviation is a central aim of economic and social policy, and yet there is no consensus about what poverty means or how it is best measured. Often, the households below an income poverty line are counted as poor, but there may be no firm basis for concentrating on that particular income level. There may also be wide variations among the households below any income poverty line in terms of their actual living standards. This book explores what poverty means in developed countries, and shows that understanding and measuring it requires widening the focus beyond curent income. By using broader measures of resources and information on living patterns and concrete indicators of deprivation, it shows how those who are effectively excluded from participation in society due to a lack of resources can be more accurately identified, and the processes producing such exclusion better understood. The core issue of this book is how to define and measure poverty in relatively rich countries in a way which is valid, meaningful in the context, and valuable for policy-making. Extensive tables of data from a specially designed survey of a large representative sample of Irish households are used to illustrate this issue.

Excerpt

Poverty is a notoriously ill-defined term, both in common usage and in academic application. Empirical research on poverty has to deal first of all with the ambiguities and confusions associated with the term and concept: what is it that one is actually trying to measure? It then has to address the problem that the various approaches to measuring poverty that are used in practice may not adequately implement the underlying concept: they may not correctly identify those one would wish to call 'poor'. Despite the attention poverty statistics receive from policy-makers and the broader public, there is remarkably little consensus among social scientists on how best to measure the condition. In this book our aim is to identify and address key problems with the ways in which poverty has generally been conceptualized and measured in relatively rich countries. The core issue is how to define and measure poverty in such countries in a way that is valid, meaningful in the context, and valuable for policy-making.

The measurement of poverty can be seen as consisting of two distinct though interrelated exercises: the identification of the poor, and the subsequent aggregation of the statistics regarding those identified as poor to derive an overall index of poverty (Sen 1976). Much of the recent academic literature on the methodology of poverty measurement, notably by economists, has focused on the second element, with Sen's own proposal for a summary poverty measure generating a substantial sub-literature. This has been particularly valuable in drawing attention to the shortcomings of simply looking at the numbers in poverty without taking into account the depth and distribution of their poverty. However, the value of sophisticated summary measures is predicated on having a satisfactory approach to the identification of the poor in the first place, which has been relatively neglected. It is on how best to identify the poor, which we regard as the major challenge currently facing poverty research, that this book concentrates.

That does not mean that we are searching for a unique objective scientific measure of poverty on which everyone can agree. Such a search is not, in our view, likely to be fruitful and has certainly not been successful so far. No single satisfactory and convincing method of setting a poverty line that is 'objective' and appropriate for all purposes has emerged or is likely to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.