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Rich Democracies, Poor PeopleHow Politics Explain Poverty$
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David Brady

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385878.001.0001

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Rethinking the Measurement of Poverty

Rethinking the Measurement of Poverty

(p.23) 2 Rethinking the Measurement of Poverty
Rich Democracies, Poor People

David Brady (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by reviewing the shortcomings of the official U.S. measure of poverty, arguing that it is unreliable and invalid. Then, the chapter reviews major theoretical and methodological advances in poverty measurement and advocates five criteria in the measurement of poverty: (1) to measure comparative historical variation effectively, (2) to be relative rather than absolute, (3) to conceptualize poverty as social exclusion and capability deprivation, (4) to incorporate taxes and transfers, and (5) to integrate the depth of poverty. Overall, the aim is to facilitate the integration of theoretical and methodological advances into the empirical measurement of poverty. Also, criticisms are made of absolute measures of poverty, the measurement of poverty before taxes and transfers, and measures of redistribution. This chapter makes a theoretical argument regarding how poverty should be measured for the study of affluent democracies.

Keywords:   measurement, conceptualization, reliability, validity, methods, absolute poverty, relative poverty, redistribution, social exclusion, capability deprivation

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