Absolute Poverty Lines

Channing Arndt, Kristi Mahrt and Finn Tarp

in Measuring Poverty and Wellbeing in Developing Countries

Published in print December 2016 | ISBN: 9780198744801
Published online January 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191805967 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

Show Summary Details


Private consumption capabilities form only one facet of comprehensive living standards assessments, but they are an important facet whose measurement should be done well. Measurement is complex due to a multitude of methodological choices, which often interact with imperfect data and a desire for comparability through time. This chapter outlines ideas underpinning these choices with particular attention to the tensions between consistency and specificity. It also highlights a series of limitations associated with typical cost of basic needs approaches. Finally, it reaffirms that a ‘sensibly eclectic’ approach, employing multiple methods, is the best available mode for addressing these limitations. A first fundamental choice is whether to estimate an absolute poverty line at all. Consumption-based poverty metrics provide only a partial view into the welfare of individuals or households, which may or may not accord with other important facets of welfare.

Keywords: poverty measurement; poverty line estimation; utility consistency; cost of basic needs; consumption

Chapter.  5901 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.