Measures of Income, Poverty and Social Exclusion

Recent Developments and Lessons for U.S. Poverty Measurements

Journal Articles

"European Measures of Income, Poverty, and Social Exclusion: Recent Developments and Lessons for U.S. Poverty Measurement"
Douglas J. Besharov
Kenneth Couch

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 713–715 (2009).

Full Article

"Deconstructing European Poverty Measures: What Relative and Absolute Scales Measure"
Richard Burkhauser

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 715–725 (2009).

Abstract

This paper reflects on European Union and United States official concepts of poverty and their measurement as presented at the Joint OECD/University of Maryland International Conference on Measuring Poverty, Income Inequality, and Social Exclusion: Lessons from Europe and argues that they are closer in design than commonly recognized.  Both entities have struggled with establishing a poverty level and how to adjust it over time. The difference between them is less that one is relative and the other absolute and more in what implicitly is considered the appropriate solidarity group for comparative purposes within their populations.

Full Article

"Impressionistic Realism: The Europeans Focus the U.S. on Measurement"
David Johnson

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 725–731 (2009).

Full Article

"Europe’s Other Poverty Measures: Absolute Thresholds Underlying Social Assistance"
Richard Bavier

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 732–738 (2009).

Abstract

Although the OECD employs a “relative” poverty threshold for international comparisons, social assistance in many member nations is supported by “absolute” measures of need, often termed standard budgets.  Examples of standard budgets from Western Europe are sketched, as are conceptual counterparts in the U.S., including the Thrifty Food Plan, Fair Market Rent, and implicit standards of need underlying the largest federal means-tested programs providing health care and necessary child care.  A lesson from Europe is that concretely expressed needs standards are suited to the context of public choice about social assistance spending.  Rather than “arbitrary,” as expert poverty literature has it, empirically arguable stands of need can represent the rational process by which elected government aggregates and resolves views on inherently evaluative issues, such as what it is indecent for people to be without, or, more progressively, what is necessary for full participation in society.

Full Article

"European Measures of Poverty and "Social Exclusion": Material Deprivation, Consumption, and Life Satisfaction"
Neil Gilbert

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 738–744 (2009).

Full Article

"New Comparative Measures of Income, Material Deprivation, and Well-Being"
Timothy Smeeding

The full article can be found in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 4, 745–752 (2009).

Abstract

Poverty and inequality are important issues in all countries represented at the meeting. The debates and discussions about absolute vs. relative poverty and broader measures of well-being across such a range of countries were unthinkable thirty years ago The topics included comparability and measurement of poverty and deprivation for policy and practice. The discussions also suggested that there is much room for cross-national learning in social policy circles for families with children; for the aged; for the structurally unemployed; and for the undereducated.

Full Article