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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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Alternatives to Income-Based Measures of Poverty

Alternatives to Income-Based Measures of Poverty

(p.291) 14 Alternatives to Income-Based Measures of Poverty
Counting the Poor

Kenneth A. Couch

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the symmetrical problems that arise in developing an income or consumption-based measure of economic well-being. In theory, direct measures of consumption are preferable as a measure of well-being, particularly for low-income households, because they are more likely to reflect the end result of the many paths individuals may take to sustain themselves. In practice, however, problems of valuation of nonmarket goods arise both when an analyst begins with income as a measure of resources but then wishes to augment it with non-purchased items, and when consumption expenditures is the ultimate analytical goal but individuals access goods in many ways other than market transactions. The analytical problems encountered in constructing a comprehensive measure of disposable income begin with accurately measuring the components of the standard definition. Many components of the disposable income concept are not measured accurately. One is self-reported income. Excise and sales taxes are also totally neglected both in the United States and Europe.

Keywords:   economic well-being, income, consumption, taxes, self-reported income, market transactions

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