Why Do Measures Of Poverty Based On Income And Exp

1556 Words7 Pages
Why do measures of poverty based on income and expenditure not provide an accurate picture of what it is like to be poor? What other dimensions need to be incorporated? The World Bank estimates that about 1.4 billion people live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day in 2005 (Khanna, 2010.) However, measures of poverty based solely on income and expenditure are often inadequate in identifying who is poor but more importantly, what it is like to be poor; consequently, the Oxford Concise English Dictionary (1999) definition of poverty, “the state of being extremely poor”, is insufficient; it does not incorporate the other dimensions affecting poverty. “The definition of what is poverty or who is poor and how it can be alleviated is specific to each and every place” (Buchy, 2010), in other words, poverty is relative. The British sociologist Peter Townsend provides a much more relevant definition where to be in poverty people: “lack the resources to obtain the types of diets, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary...in the societies to which they belong...they are, in effect, excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities.” (Townsend, 1979, p.31) Nevertheless, the advantages of income and expenditure measures shall be explored along with the other dimensions of poverty measurement and why they are needed. There is much debate on the short-comings and the advantages of the measurement of poverty by poverty lines as used by the Worldbank. Certainly its primary advantage is that it provides a clear and tangible ”criterion for deciding if an individual or household is poor” (Allen and Thomas, 2000), and with a Millenium Development goal of reducing by one half the proportion of people in extreme poverty by 2015, this is the most logical measurement to equip. It allows for the
Open Document