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The Economics of PovertyHistory, Measurement, and Policy$
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Martin Ravallion

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190212766

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190212766.001.0001

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Poverty Lines

Poverty Lines

(p.191) 4 Poverty Lines
The Economics of Poverty

Martin Ravallion

Oxford University Press

Even before there were poverty measures for descriptive purposes, there were attempts to define what constitutes a reasonable minimum income level to not be considered poor in specific settings for the purposes of policymaking. Indeed, the basic idea of such a “poverty line” is one of the oldest and most well-known concepts found in applied economics. The economic interpretation of a poverty line is as the cost of attaining a given level of economic welfare or “standard of living” in different places or different dates. The minimum level of economic welfare needed to not be considered “poor” can be determined either objectively—meaning that it is set by an observer, based on data—or subjectively, meaning that it is based on what people themselves think about what constitutes poverty in the society in question. The chapter studies both approaches.

Keywords:   poverty line, minimum income, standard of living, economic welfare, nutrition, subjective poverty

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