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ERIC Number: EJ858834
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-0276-8739
Europe's Other Poverty Measures: Absolute Thresholds Underlying Social Assistance
Bavier, Richard
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, v28 n4 p732-738 Fall 2009
The first thing many learn about international poverty measurement is that European nations apply a "relative" poverty threshold and that they also do a better job of reducing poverty. Unlike the European model, the "absolute" U.S. poverty threshold does not increase in real value when the nation's standard of living rises, even though it is obvious that what people think of as living in poverty today, such as having no electricity or indoor plumbing, would not have been a sign of poverty a century ago. A 1995 National Research Council panel report advised the U.S. to emulate Europe and adopt a relative, or at least a "quasi-relative," threshold, indexed each year by changes in spending on food, clothing, and shelter between the 30th and 35th percentiles of couples with two children. Couples in this range have incomes above $50,000 and most own their own homes. So indexing a poverty threshold to their spending on basics would tend to reflect economic gains among families who are well above what most people regard as poverty. This article discusses another lesson not typically featured at conferences on international poverty measurement--that "absolute" measures of need frequently underlie the social assistance schemes that help Western European nations measure up well against "relative" poverty thresholds. U.S. standards of need and lessons for policy are also discussed. (Contains 1 footnote.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States