Evaluating different measurements of poverty.

In attempting to assess the policies, namely the neoliberal policies of the last thirty years on the poor, three different ways of measuring poverty have been put forward, all with their own merits and disadvantages

The first way of measuring it is the absolute income approach. The World Bank currently measures poverty in terms of people living on less than $1.90 a day. This approach has shown poverty to decrease from 50% of the world’s population in 1980 to 10% today. Peter Edwards criticizes the $1.90 figure for being too low, himself proposing $7.60. That to shows poverty to have gone down from 73% in 1980 to 60% today (as a % of world population). These absolute income approaches all show poverty to have gone in % of people down since 1980, and so are deemed inadequate by critical theorists who insist poverty is more than just how much someone is making.

The next way of measuring poverty is the relative approach. Those advocating this approach insist that poverty is relative- Adam Smith himself saying that while a linen shirt is not a necessity, not having one in a society in which everyone else does is a sign of poverty. In the UK poverty is measured as living on a figure 60% of median income, and applying this to worldwide countries would show poverty has increased in the last 30 years alongside inequality. However some would argue this itself is a flawed measure, since using such figures would show poor but equal countries such as Romania to have lower poverty levels than the UK, which is rich but unequal.

Some development economists, such as Seyn insist that looking at income, absolute measurements or relative ones are too focused on income and not enough on human wellbeing. Such economists tend to use the HDI, which measures living standards, things such as housing and food. The HDI shows a mixed record for the last 30 years, with hunger and poverty going up in some areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa but down in others such as China and India.

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