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« Global warming video | Main | Flooding in Pakistan - FAO perspective »

September 22, 2011


Douglas Karr

Key to these studies is actually investigating what "poverty" is defined as. First, the income rate does not include additional funding that the government supplies for food and housing. Additionally, most US citizens "in poverty" have refrigerators, two televisions, mobile phones, cable, and many even have a gaming machine. They also have access to medical care. In short, the United States has redefined what poverty actually is... and it's wealthy compared to the rest of the world.

Louise Manning

You are right to say that each country defines what it considers to be "poverty" and that this definition varies around the world. Therefore "poverty" is relative from country to country. Having received your comment I have read the US Census Bureau definition of poverty and there are 48 parameters described as poverty thresholds. In the UK there is also no easy measure for what poverty is either, but the term proves very emotive.

I think this quote probably sums up what we are saying:
"The most commonly used way to measure poverty is based on incomes. A person is considered poor if his or her income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. This minimum level is usually called the "poverty line". What is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies. Therefore, poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values."
The World Bank Organisation

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