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Counting the PoorNew Thinking About European Poverty Measures and Lessons for the United States$
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Douglas J. Besharov and Kenneth A. Couch

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860586.001.0001

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Deconstructing European Poverty Measures

Deconstructing European Poverty Measures

Chapter:
(p.79) 4 Deconstructing European Poverty Measures
Source:
Counting the Poor
Author(s):

Richard V. Burkhauser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860586.003.0004

This chapter considers the implications for the EU of the American experience in measuring poverty. It begins by considering different dimensions within which both the EU and the United States must make analytical decisions in order to operationalize an income-based measure of poverty. It then turns to the fundamental concepts that the EU's relative poverty measure and the US absolute measure seek to address. It argues that relative poverty rates emerge from a social context where reducing dispersion in income is seen as a primary social goal and that this tradition has been more prevalent in European history. Absolute poverty rates tend to emerge from consideration of the minimum income necessary to live at a subsistence level, which is consistent with the tradition of thinking on this issue in the United States. At a technical level, there are refinements to the US method of measuring poverty that could usefully be drawn from the EU approach.

Keywords:   poverty measurement, income, relative poverty, absolute poverty, poverty rates

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