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Encyclopedia > Poverty threshold

The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living. In practice, like the definition of poverty, the official or common understanding of the poverty line is significantly higher in developed nations than in developing countries. Income, generally defined, is the money that is received as a result of the normal business activities of an individual or a business. ... The Standard of living refers to the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people and the way these services and goods are distributed within a population. ... A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum in Jakarta, Indonesia shows what he found. ... A developed country is a country that has achieved (currently or historically) a high degree of industrialization, and which enjoys the higher standards of living which wealth and technology make possible. ...

It is widely discussed how and where to set the poverty threshold. In practice, different countries often use different poverty thresholds. Globally, however, it is more common to use only one poverty threshold in order to compare economic welfare levels. When comparing poverty across countries, the purchasing power parity exchange rates are used. These are used because poverty levels otherwise would change with the normal exchange rates. Thus, 'living for under $1 a day' should be understood as having a daily total consumption of goods and services comparable to the amount of goods and services that can be bought in the U.S. for $1. Self-produced goods and public services are included in this measure. Look up Threshold in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Purchasing power parity (PPP) theory was developed by Gustav Cassel in 1920. ... Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. ...

Almost all societies have some citizens living in poverty. The poverty threshold is useful as an economic tool with which to measure such people and consider socioeconomic reforms such as welfare and unemployment insurance to reduce poverty. Welfare is financial assistance paid by taxpayers to groups of people who are unable to support themselves, and determined to be able to function more effectively with financial assistance. ... Unemployment benefits are sums of money given to the unemployed by the government or a compulsory para-governmental insurance system. ...

Determining the poverty line is usually done by finding the total cost of all the essential resources that an average human adult consumes in one year. This approach is needs-based in that an assessment is made of the minimum expenditure needed to maintain a tolerable life. This was the original basis of the poverty line in the United States, whose poverty threshold has since been raised due to inflation. In developing countries, the most expensive of these resources is typically the rent required to live in an apartment. Economists thus pay particular attention to the real estate market and housing prices because of their strong influence on the poverty threshold. Percent below each countrys official poverty line, according to the CIA factbook. ...

Individual factors are often used to handle various circumstances, such as whether one is a parent, elderly, a child, married, etc.


Problems with using a poverty threshold

Using a poverty threshold is problematic because having an income marginally above it is not substantially different from having an income marginally below it: the negative effects of poverty tend to be continuous rather than discrete, and the same low income affects different people in different ways. To overcome this poverty indices are sometimes used instead; see income inequality metrics. Income inequality metrics or income distribution metrics are techniques used by economists to measure the distribution of income among members of a society. ...

A poverty threshold relies on a quantitative, or purely numbers-based measure of income. If other human development-indicators like health and education shall be used, they must be quantified, not a simple (if even achievable) task. A scale for measuring mass A quantitative property is one that exists in a range of magnitudes, and can therefore be measured. ...

Cash income and Welfare benefits

Rea Hederman, a senior policy analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, in the United States, wrote, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative public policy research institute based in Washington, D.C., in the United States. ...

  • The official poverty measure counts only monetary income. It considers antipoverty programs such as food stamps, housing assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid and school lunches, among others, "in-kind benefits" -- and hence not income. So, despite everything these programs do to relieve poverty, they aren't counted as income when Washington measures the poverty rate. [1]

The Food Stamp Program serves as the first line of defense against hunger. ... The United States federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that reduces or eliminates the taxes that low-income working people pay (such as payroll taxes) and also frequently operates as a wage subsidy for low-income workers. ... Medicaid is the US health insurance program for individuals and families with low incomes and resources. ... A school dinner is a meal (dinner or lunch) provided to students at a school. ...

Defining poverty thresholds

Poverty thresholds can be defined in different ways:

  • Social Security benefit based. If a government guarantees to make income up to some particular level then it may be presumed that that level is the poverty threshold. This is a problematic definition, because an uncharitable government may reduce the guaranteed income, thus reducing the incidence of poverty so defined while increasing the incidence of actual poverty.
  • A relative income line, related to some fraction of typical incomes. This excludes the wealthiest individuals from the calculation. For example, the OECD and the European Union uses 60% of national median equivalised household income.
  • A relative figure fixed in time and only adjusted for inflation - thus avoiding the possibility that if income inequality increases, then poverty may otherwise also increase.
  • When the World Bank calculates its "$1 a day" statistics, it uses a poverty threshold.

see also Ponzi Scheme Social security primarily refers to a field of social welfare service concerned with social protection, or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment, families with children and others. ... A cake divided into four equal quarters. ... The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization of those developed countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and a free market economy. ... In probability theory and statistics, a median is a number dividing the higher half of a sample, a population, or a probability distribution from the lower half. ... Logo of the World Bank The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, in Romance languages: BIRD), better known as the World Bank, is an international organization whose original mission was to finance the reconstruction of nations devastated by WWII. Now, its mission has expanded to fight poverty by means...

Absolute poverty

A measure of absolute poverty quantifies the number of people below a poverty threshold, and this poverty threshold is independent of time and place. For the measure to be absolute, the line must be the same in different countries. Such an absolute measure should look only at the individual's power to consume and it should be independent of any changes in income distribution. Such a measure is only possible when all consumed goods and services are counted and when PPP-exchange rates are used (see purchasing power parity). The intuition behind an absolute measure is that mere survival takes the same amount of goods across the world and that everybody should be subject to the same standards if meaningful comparisons of policies and progress are to be made. Notice that if everyone's real income in an economy increases, and the income distribution does not change, absolute poverty will decline. The Purchasing power parity (PPP) theory was developed by Gustav Cassel in 1920. ... This graphic shows the distribution of gross annual household income. ...

Furthermore, the rate of absolute poverty can decline even though inequality is increasing - as long as the poorest get a higher real income than they had before.

This type of measure is often contrasted with measures of relative poverty (see below), which classify individuals or families as "poor" not by comparing them to a fixed cutoff point, but by comparing them to others in the population under study. (The term absolute poverty is also sometimes used as a synonym for extreme poverty.) Extreme poverty is the most severe state of poverty, where people cannot meet basic needs for survival, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, sanitation, education and health care. ...

Relative poverty

See also: Relative deprivation

A measure of relative poverty defines "poverty" as being below some relative poverty threshold. An example is when poverty is defined as households who earn less than 25% of the median income is a measure of relative poverty. Notice that if everyone's real income in an economy increases, but the income distribution stays the same, relative poverty will also stay the same. Relative deprivation is the experience of being deprived of something to which one thinks he is entitled to [Walker & Smith 2001]. It is a term used in social sciences to describe feelings or measures of economic, political, or social deprivation that are relative rather than absolute. ... This graphic shows the distribution of gross annual household income. ...

Measures of relative poverty are almost the same as measuring inequality: If a society gets a more equal income distribution, relative poverty will fall. Following this, some argue that the term 'Relative Poverty' is itself misleading and that 'Inequality' should be used instead. They point out that if society changed in a way that hurt high earners more than low ones, then 'relative poverty' would decrease but every citizen of the society would be worse off. Likewise in the reverse direction: over the last few centuries, many countries have lowered their absolute poverty while increasing their relative poverty.

The phrase relative poverty can also be used in a different sense to mean "moderate poverty" – for example, a standard of living or level of income that is high enough to satisfy basic needs (like water, food, clothing, shelter, and basic health care), but still significantly lower than that of the majority of the population under consideration. Impact of a drop of water Water is a chemical substance that is essential to all known forms of life. ... Girls wearing formal attire for dancing, an example of one of the many modern forms of clothing. ... Shelter can refer to several things: Look up shelter on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Health care or healthcare is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical, nursing, and allied health professions. ...

See also

Map of world poverty by country, showing percentage of population living on less than 1 dollar per day. ... This article contains a list of countries by percentage of the population living below poverty line and a list of countries by population living under $2 a day and $1 a day. ...


Ray, Debraj 1998, Development Economics, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-01706-9.

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